Parastatals need clear vision to succeed: Mbigi

STATE enterprises and parastatals would never be turned around unless Zimbabwe, as a country, has a clear vision, professor of business and public management, Lovemore Mbigi has said.

BY MTHANDAZO NYONI

Giving his presentation on the topic: Parastatals reforms-is privatisation a solution or the panacea at the Institute Chartered Accountants of Zimbabwe winter school held in Victoria Falls last week, Mbigi said parastatals in Zimbabwe needed a clear national vision.

“Parastatals will not thrive no matter how efficiently they are managed unless there is a clearly understood model of State or vision of a state. If I look at the current transitional President, he has done a lot of things, but I think the omission that we must address is that there is no vision,” he said.

“What kind of a State, what kind of a country do we want to have? The key winners in Africa and elsewhere have a Sate model or vision called a developmental State,” he said.

He said examples of successful developmental State were China, Singapore, Botswana among others.

Mbigi said in a developmental state, the government intervenes in the economy by not being a spectator of development.
It should be the main entrepreneur for all other forms of entrepreneurship to work.

He said Zimbabwe was suffering not because of sanctions or corruption, but lack of leadership accountability.
“If we are going to turnaround parastatals the whole issue of leadership accountability becomes very important. The second one is that government structure must be in place” he said.

The country has about 107 State enterprises and parastatals, with more than 50 of them being perennial loss makers depending on government handouts for survival.

In a bid to turn around some them, government has proposed to merge and privatise some of them. However, the process is still underway. Mbigi said the other problem which the parastatals were facing was that the non-executive directors were not well paid.

“So they don’t do their work. They just come there, drink tea and do some political gossips then they go home.”


Mbigi said there also has to be a performance management system at every level including the front line worker.

The majority of the parastatals in Zimbabwe were not meant to serve the majority, but the white minority, he said.

“What we are saying is there should be an institutional building mentality in political key role players. And also to realise that the current parastatals were not meant to benefit our own people. So they need a very different strategy if they are going to work for the majority. So institutional building is critical if the parastatals are going to work,” Mbigi said.

He also said there has to be a deliberate investment in change management.

“I don’t think we are responding adequately to the challenges of globalisation. So to turn around parastatals we need to invest in transformation management,” he said.

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