Let's revisit our modus operandi

HARARE - The Zanu PF government, very clear in its conscience that it is doing things wrongly, continues to try and treat symptoms of major deficiencies within its operational system.

The President Robert Mugabe-led administration superintends over shareholding in several corporations, most of which are doing badly.

The obtaining cash shortages in the country — which government tried to plug with the introduction of bond notes last year — are symptoms of a much bigger problem within the economy.

Zimbabwe’s manufacturing sector is operating below capacity while the few operational firms have to put up with sourcing foreign currency on the parallel market to finance key machinery and equipment imports.

The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe requires them to join the forex priority list.

The case of Air Zimbabwe (AirZim) — which is reportedly recording an estimated $2 million loss per month is not an isolated case as other State-owned corporations like the National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ), the Grain Marketing Board (GMB), the Cold Storage Company (CSC), steel giant Ziscosteel, Zimglass among many others are also singing the blues.

Sadly for Transport and Infrastructural Development minister Joram Gumbo, he manages two of these key organisations — AirZim and NRZ, whose revival government has been seized with recently. By Gumbo’s own admission, things are not well but unfortunately for him, the rot had already set in when he came to the Transport ministry.

“Air Zimbabwe is running at a deficit. The monthly financial reports show that the airline is making huge losses of up to $2 million every month. This is bad, we can’t continue like this. . . .

“We have had to be realistic and look at things as they are. We can’t pretend that things are okay when they are not. The aviation industry the world over is not doing well so far and we have not been spared from the global aviation crunch.”

AirZim is saddled by a debt overhang; outstanding salaries and wages; distorted administration systems; bloated staff complement; top-heavy management and other ills, issues that bedevil several other State-owned corporations.

Basically, what we are saying is that we are treating the symptoms of a disease whose causes we know all too well but conveniently ignore.

Late famed Nigerian novelist Chinua Achebe says on the African dispensation; “This is how I see the chaos in Africa today and the absence of logic in what we’re doing.

“Africa’s post-colonial disposition is the result of a people who have lost the habit of ruling themselves, forgotten their traditional way of thinking, embracing and engaging the world without sufficient preparation.

“We have also had difficulty running the systems foisted upon us at the dawn of independence by our colonial masters.”

We are like the man in the Igbo proverb who “does not know where the rain began to beat him and so can not say when he dried his body”. Perhaps the last words need highlighting.

True, most of Zimbabwe’s parastatals have well-documented narratives of failure as a result of corruption, maladministration, absence of good corporate governance and sheer lack of skill in running businesses.

Continuing to pump in capital in failed corporations without interrogating why they failed to make money in the first place is like flushing money down a sewer. Instead, they should address the causes of the challenges first.

If an individual fails to steer a company from trouble, there is no way he will perform wonders in another. In the words of the late former Zambian president Frederick Chiluba on hearing that veteran politician and first president of independent Zambia Kenneth Kaunda was planning a comeback; “We can recycle paper, not human beings.”

At independence in 1980, all the above State-owned companies were vibrant and were the pride of the southern African nation. They have been run down as a result of decades of plunder.

What authorities fail to realise is that the current policy framework does not in any way address stressed Zimbabwe’s economic fundamentals.

    Comments (1)

    This government is not trusted, there is nothing they can do to lift the economy.

    citizen - 25 August 2017

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