The Sunday Mail
Sunday Mail Reporter
President Mnangagwa will soon take decisive action against leaders of State-owned enterprises responsible for gross malfeasance, lack of agency and costly bureaucracy, amid indications heads with roll.
Writing in his weekly column for The Sunday Mail, the President expressed disquiet at the “sheer lack of creative management” that is affecting their potential to meaningfully contribute to economic growth and development.
The lethargic approach to inventiveness and innovation, including red tape, he said, had resulted in “mounting frustration, impatience and anger” in Government.
Citing examples of crippling inertia at the Procurement Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (Praz), Cotton Company of Zimbabwe (Cottco) and the National Social Security Authority (NSSA), President Mnangagwa said the time had come for leadership at these institutions to face the music.
“On the eve of my departure for Davos, Switzerland, for the World Economic Forum (WEF), I got a disheartening report pointing to corporate rot in NSSA,” he said.
“This isn’t the first time Government had got such a disturbing report; NSSA has been a thorn in our flesh, a pain that will not go away.
“Why such a cash-rich institution with such a wide remit on investment possibilities simply decides to stash millions, and abuse no less, in a country and economy so embattled by both endogenous and exogenous adversities, no sane human being can ever fathom, least of all those of us in Government.
“NSSA’s equivalents in various jurisdictions are on the cutting edge of public investments.
“They determine the national course and direction. Not so our NSSA here.”
He said while the number of workers paying subscriptions to NSSA continues to increase, reflecting positive economic growth, this was not being matched by commensurate public investment by the social security authority.
NSSA, he added, was giving Government “headaches”, while also pushing workers into abject misery on retirement.
“The time may have now come for us to re-locate the headache to where it should be suffered, namely in heads of those begetting corporate malfeasances, all to our collective detriment.”
He said the operationalisation of the soon-to-be-completed generators 7 and 8 at the Hwange Thermal Power Station could potentially be scuppered by procurement regulations prohibiting Government entities from entering long-term supply contracts.
As a result, coal miners and merchants are uncertain that they will be able to cope with the exponential demand for coal from the power stations. He said a fatal lack of foresight at Praz had witnessed the institution failing to adjust its procurement rules “in anticipation of vital projects with long gestation periods”.
“Coal miners and merchants require to invest in huge, costly equipment, both to extract thermal coal and to convey it to the Zesa station.
“This requires a huge capital outlay, much of it accessed through borrowing.
“Lenders can only do so on the certainty of viable contracts which make banking sense.
“Who lends to an operator with a mere year-long supply contract?
“Which borrower even wants the risk?”
Government, said the President, will immediately change those regulations, which threaten to cripple a project of vital national importance.
“The rules governing tenders for coal miners and merchants must and will be suitably changed to ensure they enable investments required so coal is supplied in adequate quantities to all the eight generators.
“There has to be prompt movement in that direction, as soon as yesterday.
“This Government will change those ‘laws’ and rules attributed to a false corporate Moses who has stood in the way of our progress.”
Turning to Cottco, he said the company was standing idly by while peasant cotton farmers are being fleeced of their hard-earned earnings by merchants buying up all their cotton at extortionately low prices.
However, Government has been deliberately supporting cotton farmers through an inputs support scheme that has witnessed an embryonic revival of the sub-sector.
“Those in charge of Cottco must quickly change their ways; there is no time any longer, certainly no patience in us to suffer their reprehensible conduct.
“The cotton, after all, by right belongs to Government by virtue of input support.
“The earnings being stashed abroad belong to this country.
“Government shall have what it is owed; farmers shall be paid what is overdue to them.
“Above all, the economy will have all its earnings transparently accounted for by all players, Cottco included.”