Govt revamps loss-making parastatals

GOVERNMENT has introduced a raft of reforms on the corruption-riddled State enterprises and entities that could result in some being liquidated, privatised or merged as the new regime steps up efforts to turnaround the economy ahead of polls.

BY EVERSON MUSHAVA

Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa yesterday said following Cabinet’s decision on State enterprises reform, government hoped to turnaround the fortunes of State enterprises that plunged the country into the economic abyss due to years of mismanagement.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa is under pressure to deliver on promises he made when he took over from former President Robert Mugabe last November.

His focus is on resuscitating the economy by setting performance targets on ministers, but progress has been moving at a snail’s pace, exposing him to attacks by the opposition.

It is understood that Mnangagwa’s decision to dissolve the loss-making entities and scout for private investors could revive the country’s economy.

According to Chinamasa’s statement, the Postal and Telecommunication Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (Potraz) and Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe (BAZ) would be merged while the Special Economic Zone, Zimbabwe Investment Authority, Zimtrade and the Joint Venture Unit will also be collapsed to form a one-stop shop for potential business investors.

The envisaged plan could also see finalisation of joint venture proposals by the Swiss and United Kingdom investors for the Cold Storage Commission (CSC) by April 30.

There will be a single board for Zesa, the Zimbabwe Electricity Transmission and Distribution Company (Zetdc) and Zimbabwe Power Company, while Powertel, Zarnet and Africom will all be amalgamated under Zetdc.

While the National Handling Services will not be privatised, ZimPost, Post Office Savings Bank, Infrastructure Development Bank of Zimbabwe (IDBZ, TelOne, NetOne and Telecel Zupco, Willowvale Mazda Motor Industry, Chemplex Corporation and Zimbabwe Mining Development Company subsidiary mines will either be partially or wholly privatised.

“Where partial privatisation is to take place, government will explore opportunities for using the stock exchange to promote involvement and ownership by the public/population through share ownership schemes,” Chinamasa said.

Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe will divided into two entities – a regulatory authority and airports authority, while the Zimbabwe National Road Administration (Zinara) will remain under the Transport ministry, but with a focus on revenue collection and not on technical road construction activities.

Zinara was also challenged to ensure that there was improved transparency and accountability in the operations. The National Railways of Zimbabwe will continue with its recapitalisation programme.

Allied Timbers and Agribank will be required to seek strategic partners. The Grain Marketing Board will continue to hold the national grain reserves, but was expected to complete work on delinking the strategic grain reserve and the GMB’s commercial operations.

The Competition and Tariff Commission survived while the National Competitiveness Commission will now become a department in support of the private sector.

Government-owned news agency, New Ziana becomes a department in the Information, Media and Broadcasting Services ministry and the National Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Unit moves to the Industry, Commerce and Enterprise Development ministry as a department.

“Detailed implementation modalities for each of the Cabinet decisions will be provided in the form of a Memorandum to Cabinet by each respective line ministry, including indications, where relevant or necessary, for the engagement of technical, financial or legal advisers in order to facilitate the reform or restructuring process agreed by Cabinet,” Chinamasa said.

“Government has been consistent in emphasizing the critical contribution expected from the State enterprises and parastatal (SEP) sector towards the revival of Zimbabwe’s economic fortunes and in this regard has for some time been pursuing a programme of SEPs reform designed to enhance performance, improve service-delivery and to bring more order, discipline and rationality to the sector as a whole.”

Chinamasa added: “This framework has been developed by the arms of government mandated to oversee SEPs governance, performance and reform, namely the corporate governance unit within the Office of the President and Cabinet, the Finance and Economic Development ministry and the State Enterprises Restructuring Agency on the basis of a comprehensive diagnostic analysis of the overall sector.”