Parastatal reforms, much ado about nothing

THE pronouncement by President Emmerson Mnangagwa regarding the reform of parastatals comes short of expectations, with the new structure basically exposing the State to continued looting as well as financial haemorrhage.

Mnangagwa’s announcement through Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa, while exciting in theory, shows the usual gimmick of just pushing the pieces around without real change at a structural level. If anything, the new structures only place a fresh burden on the fiscus.

The appointment of one board to oversee operations and State power supplier, Zesa Holdings without the streamlining of the bloated management structure means a continuation of the same – in fact it is change without change.

It is an open secret that most of these State enterprises and agencies are riddled with corruption and saddled with huge debts that the only option was to liquidate most, if not all, of them and begin anew. Zimbabweans are yet to be convinced what fresh ideas the management at the Zimbabwe Investment Authority, the Special Economic Zones, Joint Venture Unit and ZimTrade would bring to the table once these are collapsed into one as envisaged.

If the human resource architecture remains the same, then the mentality is highly unlikely to change. It is going to be more of the same and Zimbabwe will continue to go around in circles, with only theoretical pronouncements at podiums that do not translate to tangible benefits for ordinary folks.

So, Chinamasa and Mnangagwa want us to believe that moving New (read old) Ziana to the Information ministry is reform? Really!

What will the change of name at the Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe to Airports Regulatory Authority, bring in terms of value and mind-set shift to the institution if David Chawota and crew remain at the steering wheel?

Mnangagwa claimed he was impressed by the young people he witnessed running the Rwanda Development Board. Well and good. It’s one thing being impressed and convening meetings in boardrooms to listen to the elaborate ways that Rwanda follows in wooing investors to the East African country and another to implement the same when the same people man the rotten institutions.

The proof of the pudding is in the eating.

The citizenry will only be convinced once we see real action in terms of streamlining of management structures, the bringing in of fresh, dynamic brains to take charge and the shunting to the labour graveyard of the “typewriter generation” that has run State-owned enterprises aground.

Otherwise Chinamasa’s pre-arranged incestuous corporate relationships will only produce illegitimate economic misfits that will continue to gnaw at our fiscus without return or benefit to the poor.

The new creatures are likely to result in more financial outflows which the “new dispensation” can ill-afford. Mnangagwa needs to bite the bullet. He will not win the war with these square pegs in round holes that currently manage our parastatals. Otherwise this is an exercise in futility!

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