CIVIL society and trade union groups have accused the Zanu PF government of being complicit in the looting of parastatals, local authorities and other quasi-government bodies where senior executives were taking home huge salaries in an ailing economy with the majority living on less than $2 a day.
By Paidamoyo Muzulu
This comes in the wake of a recent expose of “obscene executive salaries” at Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation Holdings, Air Zimbabwe, Premier Services Medical Aid Society (PSMAS) and Harare City Council. The executives are taking home between $36 000 and $230 000 per month.
The civil society organisations argued that it was practically impossible for the government to be oblivious of what was happening in State enterprises since permanent secretaries sit on the boards of these institutions and report to the minister.
Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions acting secretary-general Gideon Shoko said government officials knew of these things but did not speak out because they also benefitted or they feared shaking the boat especially on persons related to senior politicians.
“Certainly, they knew what was going on since permanent secretaries sit on the boards that approved these salaries,” Shoko said.
He hastened to add: “Political bootlicking and patronage also made sure that those in the boards remained quiet about the goings on in the parastatals.”
Transparency International Zimbabwe chairman Loughty Dube agreed, adding that government officials slept on duty and should shoulder the blame for the rot at public institutions.
“There was no political commitment to do an oversight duty on these parastatals by the line ministers, permanent secretaries and Parliament since the salaries and perks of executives were approved by the entire boards,” Dube said.
“These parastatals were used by those in government to feed from and loot without being seen by the public.”
The country has in the past witnessed the looting of State enterprises till they were shells like in the case of Ziscosteel.
Investigations by Parliament then proved that the company was systematically looted by executives with the connivance of senior government officials.
Dube challenged the authorities to make public the financial records of parastatals as enshrined in the Constitution if there was nothing to hide.
“The government has failed in enforcing clear business procedures based on good corporate governance such as publication of audited financial results. Why is it that the public is not told how much board members get per sitting?”
Shoko said in the case of PSMAS the firing of the board chairman was disingenuous on the part of government.
“Why did they single out the board chairman instead of firing the entire board that presided over sanctioned looting?” Shoko queried.
Civil society groups said until a comprehensive audit of the parastatals salary schedules was done and anyone implicated in improper conduct prosecuted, citizens would remain sceptical of the government’s commitment to fight corruption.