The Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation is famous for showing repeats. Perhaps this might be the right time to screen the series: Yes Minister, again.
It is a British comedy but although Zimbabwe and Britain do not see eye-to-eye, Zimbabwe is largely a British product, though it is desperately trying to wean itself.
In one of the episodes of Yes Minister, the minister and his permanent secretary clearly demonstrate that a commission of inquiry is mainly there to cool down tempers- that is to appease the public by pretending that something is being done about something that has outraged them- but the main purpose of the commission is to cover up the scandal which if left to the media to unravel would embarrass a lot more people in government.
Calls for a commission of inquiry into what the media has now termed salarygate are therefore misguided. A commission will only cover up the scandal. If a crime was committed, let the police investigate and arrest the culprits.
Zimbabwe has a highly efficient, effective and committed police force if they are allowed to do their job without any political meddling. Let them do their job, if, indeed, a crime was committed.
There is no point in setting up a commission of inquiry because the present salarygate is a result of not following the recommendations made by another commission 25 years ago.
The Committee of Inquiry into the Administration of Parastatals chaired by Justice George Smith recommended in its report of January 1989 that all members of the boards of parastatals must be appointed by the President and not by ministers or the then Parastatals Commission.
The commission felt that this “would ensure that the members were not appointed merely because of their relationship to or friendship with the minister”.
It said the appointments should be made by the President to give “greater importance and status to the appointment” adding that “any member so appointed would be more likely to appreciate the importance of the responsibilities of the post and the confidence reposed in him”.
The commission also recommended that employees of one parastatal should not sit on the board of another parastatal unless there were special circumstances, like their expertise.
In other words, Cuthbert Dube should not have been on the board of the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation since he worked for the Premier Services Medical Aid Society which is a state enterprise. Surely, he had no special skills essential for the ZBC.
The commission also said government employees including permanent secretaries should not sit on boards. It said even in cases where these government employees had special skills the disadvantages in appointing such people outweighed the advantages.
The commission’s main concern was that these government employees would never be impartial when reporting to their ministers or seniors and would want to defend any decision the boards make if they agreed with those views or would report their own personal views to the minister to support them if they did not agree with the views of other board members.
If this recommendation had been adopted Meisie Namasasu would not have been in trouble. George Charamba would not have his name dragged in the media.
To put it simply, why appoint another commission if the government does not implement what a commission it set up recommended? It is not only a waste of time, but also a waste of resources, something a cash-strapped government like the present one cannot afford to do.
The best thing is to get a refund, if that is legal, because, as one observer claimed, Cuthbert Dube’s salary could pay all the primary school teachers in Nkayi district?