PRESIDENT Emmerson Mnangagwa has admitted failing to bring sanity in parastatals that are crumbling due to gross mismanagement and corruption under his watch.
In his weekly column published in a State-run Sunday newspaper, Mnangagwa blasted parastatals which include the National Social Security Authority (Nssa) saying they were causing him “headaches” after a dossier exposing rot at the pension fund was delivered to him.
Mnangagwa castigated the Procurement Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (Praz) which he said was “fettering the very economy it is supposed to pep and grow” by upholding “senseless” rules.
He admitted that the State-run power utility Zesa was failing to meet demand for electricity, while he blamed Praz for “throttling” power projects.
“As I write Zesa is grappling with a long backlog for power demand,” Mnangagwa said.
“To make matters worse, this backlog includes new industrial and commercial projects long approved and waiting for power to come to stream. And the demand for power continues to grow by the day, including from foreign direct investment projects by which our attractiveness as an investment destination is judged. Certainly we lag behind this ever-burgeoning demand for power, which we should have long forecast to make matching investments on power generation,” he said, further pointing out that State enterprises lacked creative management and described them as a danger to the economy.
“Example three: We set up the National Social Security Authority. It is now a multi-million dollar behemoth. The other day I got a report indicating the number of workers paying subscriptions to Nssa continues to increase yearly, again showing our economy continues to grow and create more jobs. This is very good news for us and our nation. We are raising ourselves by our bootstraps, unaided and in spite of crippling sanctions. This is the true Zimbabwean spirit, encapsulated in our mantra nyika inovakwa nevene vayo. Yet more disturbing news comes from there. On the eve of my departure for Davos, Switzerland, for the World Economic Fund, I got a disheartening report pointing to corporate rot at Nssa. This is not the first time government got such disturbing reports; Nssa has been a thorn in our flesh, a pain that will not go away.”
Ironically, former Public Service minister Priscah Mupfumira’s alleged abuse of US$95 million Nssa funds is still before the courts, years after the case surfaced.
Recently, Mnangagwa claimed that he was being sabotaged by his enemies who were seeking to dislodge him from power in the 2023 elections.
Political analysts described Mnangagwa’s sentiments as “going for broke” as he tries to maintain political grip ahead of next year’s polls.
“We do not expect the President to be complaining over corruption,” analyst Vivid Gwede said.
“He is the one in charge. He should be acting against it. He can’t be gloating over maladministration of parastatals. It is the citizens, the opposition that should be complaining over all those issues that he stated in his opinion piece. He should be driving policy. The opinion confirms speculation on the widening fissures within the ruling Zanu-PF party. It’s a blame game. Instead of doing the good it is intended for. It only leaves people to speculate about who is in control. These are tell-tale signs of a new development. Remember the late former President Robert Mugabe’s expose of the missing US$15 million diamond revenue, and the events that later took place.”
Another political analyst Eldred Masungure said: “The public sector has virtually collapsed due to poor management and corruption. Parastatals are potentially a big contributor to the fiscus, but there has been gross disappointment. They used to contribute 60% to the gross domestic product, but now it is less than 10% which tells a long story on the demise of the parastatal. Whatever motivated his (Mnangagwa) statement is well directed and is overdue. He should have done that long back. The President is famous for rhetoric. I am not sure whether this is not just a fury signifying little. We hope that he will act. He has belatedly realised the rot embedded in the parastatals. If he really wants to set things straight, it is commendable.”