Saturday, September 26, 2020

How Mugabe ruined Zimbabwe’s Public Enterprises!

April 18th,1980 marked the end of colonial rule in Zimbabwe, previously known as Rhodesia, in honour of the great imperialist Cecil John Rhodes.
Rhodes had been determined to colonise Africa from the Cape to Cairo on behalf of Her Majesty The Queen of England.
A bubbling economy was inherited on the 18th of April 1980 despite the effects of a crippling guerilla war for independence.

Zimbabwe had long been popularly crowned “The Bread Basket of Africa” in acknowledgement of its vibrant internal food security and the country’s contribution to world food security. Many others went a step farther and deservingly referred to it as “The Great Zimbabwe”. It may be unbelievable today but at the time that Mugabe got to power, the Zimbabwean dollar was trading one-to-one with the British sterling pound. Industrial growth was tremendous. Inevitably, a very high percentage of all able bodied man and women were on gainful employment. Poverty was therefore, fully under control. Except for mergers and takeovers, company closures were unheard of.

State enterprises had been both reputable and profitable. They had been both employers and traders of choice on the local, regional and international market. Sound management helped Rhodesia’s rebel prime minister, Ian Douglas Smith, beat the United Nations sanctions incepted on the 11th November 1965 in response to his unilateral declaration of independence from Great Britain. The man on the street neither felt nor knew anything about the prevailing sanctions, not least because of the abundant food out-put in the country.

Then came Robert Mugabe and ZANU PF! … like lightning in thunder! … like waters in summer … Sent good corporate governance into permanent hibernation. Stripped the National Railways of Zimbabwe, one of the once very profitable public entities in the pre-independence, and immediate post-independence era, of its competent general manager, John Avery, to make way for a semi-literate ZANU PF cadre and former engine driver with the Railways, Farai Masango.
Masango’s appointment added totally zero value to the formerly prestigious institution beyond the many scandals that shook the entire establishment, and the multi-commissions of inquiry that gathered no moss. The Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority {ZESA} was also once a profitable entity prior to the hurried appointment of Dr Sidney Gata. Dr. Gata is married to Mugabe’s sister.

The strategic public enterprise got reduced to the level of a social club with no capacity to service the nation as previously experienced. Mugabe felt that employment creation for his brother in law should be a top agenda item. Sidney Gata ruined the life-blood organization to a point where even Mugabe himself got embarrassed.

He found himself with no other choice but to off-load him from the gravy train with a handsome terminal package. So Sidney left, only to be re-cycled a few years later at the expense of the then incumbent Zimbabwe Institute of Management Manager of The Year Award Winning engineer, Simbarashe Mangwengwende, who found himself arm-twisted out. And the gravy train went on with the president’s brother-in-law only to be signaled towards the exit again with the usual hefty terminal benefits commensurate with royal blood.

It remained common practice to manage-out of public enterprises all those incumbent managers whose political correctness was in doubt in favour of the ruling ZANU PF militants with or without the relevant qualifications. This saw the national airline, Air Zimbabwe, doing over five thousand kilometers to the far east with only one paying passenger aboard. At the other time it was seen ferrying in-laws of a Mugabe cabinet minister from the United Kingdom, to and fro Harare when he wedded a seventeen year old girl. The Harare to Frankfurt airline went for several years, three quarters full with Air Zimbabwe staffers with their families on shopping sprees on heavily subsidised employee benefit token passenger fares.

On two occasions, the same airline ran for several years with two chief executives in compliance with court orders after the respective incumbent resisted forced retirement to make way for a Mugabe faithful. The grain Marketing Board {GMB}, Zimbabwe Iron and Steel Company {ZISCO}, the Zimbabwe United Passenger Company {ZUPCO}, the Agricultural and Rural Development Authority {ARDA}, The Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation {ZBC},The National Social Security Authority {NASSA}, public beef company, The Cold Storage Commission {CSC} and The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe {RBZ} to mention but just a few, were all parceled to Mugabe loyalists and his ruling party hooligans, and, therefore, inevitably, all succumbed to Mugabe’s corporate governance of the jungle.
All the Zimbabwe public enterprises, including the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe, deteriorated into Mugabe’s ruling ZANU PF flagships fulltime. The public enterprises were instructed to fund Mugabe’s ruling party activities including funding the party’s violent election campaigns to the extent of failing to pay their respective workers wages over several months. This scenario triggered high skilled labour exodus from the public enterprises.

Organisational profitability became immaterial and suppliers got jittery as they could not sustain this commercial idiocy. Tyrannies are not only costly in terms of loss of human life, but also financial fraud. Public enterprises have the capacity to carry the state in its social responsibility activities if run competently. They need to be operated commercially, headed by warm-bloodied commercial animals with lots of accountability to a professional and competent body with the wits to exercise all the due care and diligence on behalf of the respective citizenry.

The Mugabe set-up remains not very different from that of late former Ugandan dictator, Idi Amin Dada, whose members of the cabinet and senior public managers ranged from common fanatic criminals to loyalist hooligan taxi drivers and the military. With Robert Mugabe, the 18th April 1980 marked the beginning of the long, winding and tiresome corruption-ridden journey from the Great Zimbabwe to the Great Zimbabwe Ruins, where bad governance, hunger, poverty, disease, corruption, atrocities, state terrorism and tyranny of the minority reigns top-most. An illegitimate SADC and African Union backed government determined to rule more graves than people has made life brutish, nasty and short for its law-abiding citizenry.

In SADC, the African Union and the United Nations standards it remains possible and acceptable that, on losing an election, tyrants can imprison all those who dare oppose them, rape the defiant corruption-weary women, kill them in horrible ways,… dump their bodies in shallow graves and disused mine pits … Tyrants intimidate their way back to power the Mugabe way … And the SADC, the African Union and the United Nations would, very nicely ask the offending tyrant to accommodate the democratically elected winners into a tyrant-led government of national unity … and allow the tyrant to continue to preside over the same terror ministries that had been used to implement the genocide project. These supposedly, principal custodians of good governance have quickly gambled away their credibility over the Zimbabwean genocide, there-by making the world more dangerous for humanity to exist.
Cry the beloved country!

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