MPs insist on having oversight role on corruption


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Members of Parliament insisted that they had to play an oversight role on corruption in the country with Mutasa South Member of Parliament Irene Zindi sponsoring a motion for the setting up of an 18-member Parliamentary Committee to do that.

The government on Tuesday announced the establishment of an agency to oversee the appointments of board members and chief executive officers of all state enterprises, but Zindi said parliament had to play a key role because this was provided for in the country’s constitution.

“Mr. Speaker, we should also ask ourselves a pertinent question – have we, as Parliament played our oversight role effectively? I ask this question because Section 119 (3) of the new Constitution states that, ‘…all institutions and agencies of the State at every level are accountable to Parliament’. Despite this, we have institutions that have operated devoid of any accountability for a very long time.” she said.
She listed the role that the committee would play as:

  • To get an appreciation of the terms of reference of the various State enterprise boards.
  • To investigate allegations of Ministers getting motor vehicles and other perks from State enterprises and local authorities.
  • To specifically investigate operations and investments by NSSA.
  • To investigate the role of the Office of the President and Cabinet in the processing of board appointments in the State enterprises and local authorities.
  • To investigate nepotism, cronyism and regionalism in boards, managerial and staff appointments.
  • To receive information from the public relating to corrupt activities in State enterprises and local authorities and finally,
  • To revisit any past corrupt activities in State enterprises and local authorities.

 

 

Full debate on Zindi’s motion:

 

DETERIORATING STATE OF CORPORATE GOVERNANCE IN ZIMBABWE

Fourteenth Order read: Adjourned debate on motion on the lack of implementation of the 2012 Corporate Governance Framework.

MR. SPEAKER: Hon. members who have already contributed to the original motion can also contribute on the amendment as well.

MS. ZINDI: Mr. Speaker, I rise to move the amendment standing in my name to which an amendment has been proposed; To delete all the words after “That this House …” and insert the following.

ACKNOWLEDGING the unequivocal stand that His Excellency, the President, Cde R.G. Mugabe has taken against corruption as reflected in his speech marking the Official Opening of the First Session of the Eighth Parliament on the 17th September 2013 and more recently at the 21st February Movement commemorating his 90th birthday;
FURTHER ACKNOWLEDGING the steps so far taken by the Executive to uproot corruption and address the awarding of outrageous salaries and other benefits to some Chief Executive Officers and allowances for their Boards of Directors;
STILL CONCERNED with the lack of observance of Corporate Governance in Zimbabwe, leading to alleged rampant corruption and abuse of office by some Public Officers.
AWAITING with interest the implementation of the 2012 Government of Zimbabwe Framework on Corporate Governance and Guidelines;
COGNISANT of the need to enhance anti – corruption laws and to give great powers to the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission;
NOW, THEREFORE resolves: To appoint an Ad hoc Committee of the House to thoroughly investigate alleged cases of corruption in Public Entities and any other relevant matter and recommend measures to restore corporate governance in the public sector.

Mr. Speaker Sir, I would like to mention that in His Excellency’s address on the occasion of the official opening of the First Session of the Eighth Parliament of Zimbabwe on September 17, 2013. The President indicated that the new Government will exercise zero tolerance to the scourge of corruption.

Again, His Excellency emphasised zero tolerance to corruption in his speech on his birthday celebrations at Rudhaka stadium in Marondera on February 22nd, 2014. On this occasion, he stated that and I quote “anyone found to have been involved in corrupt activities should be prosecuted, regardless of one’s status in society”.

In addition to His Excellency the President is encouraging to fight corruption. All political parties that participated in the July, 31st, 2013 general elections categorically stated zero tolerance to corruption in their parties’ manifestos.

Our new Constitution in addition to that which is the supreme law of this country vehemently condemns corruption so does ZIM ASSET.

Mr. Speaker Sir, I would like to applaud the Minister of Media, Information and Broadcasting Services, for having held the bull by its horns. He blew the trumpet through dismissing the board and the CEO of ZBC for corruptly awarding themselves salaries well above that which our economy could not afford, while the rest at ZBC went without being paid for several months.

Mr. Speaker, in this country, we already have a record of Ministers caught up in corrupt activities who resigned on their own accord. This applies to the late Enos Nkala, Frederick Shava and the late Edmond Garwe. The daughter of the late Edmond Garwe was found in possession of an O’ Level examination paper and the father took responsibility for the actions of his daughter and resigned as the Minister of Education, Sports, Arts and Culture.

I have given these examples so that people should listen to their revolutionary morality and resign on their own accord before they are pushed out. Our country, Mr. Speaker, is poor but we have heartless people who earn US$500 000 a month. These people should be punished and made to return all the state assets which they would have looted.

There is the Gorden Moyo Study, with recommendations on the goings on of the parastatals and I am of the opinion that it should be revisited. One of the recommendations given in that Gorden Moyo Study of the parastatals was that CEOs should be paid at least US$6 000, stated in that code of corporate governance clearly, but that was never applied at most.

The clause in the Constitution which was thrown away should be reinstated again, as a matter of urgency and the section on salaries, benefits and conditions of services in the State enterprises – I would actually like to quote you hon. Speaker. I watched you on television, where you stated, categorically, that the clause was thrown away at the time the supreme law or the Constitution went for printing.

How it was lost cannot be explained. The recent revelations in the various Government enterprises, in respect of the obscene salaries, should be viewed against the pronouncements by the highest authority in the land. The salaries that were being paid to Chief Executive Officers at PSMAS, ZBC, including the City of Harare, have left the nation in a state of disbelief. What has shocked many Zimbabweans is the extent to which public servants are helping themselves to state coffers in a manner that is not only abhorring but immoral. An example is a senior officer in the Office of the President and Cabinet, who has been receiving high board fees.

Mr. Speaker Sir, these state enterprises cannot be at the forefront of implementing the ZIM ASSET in their various sectors if the prevailing situation is not addressed. I am not at liberty to mention the name. Remember we were gagged yesterday – [HON. MEMEBERS: Inaudible interjections] –

MR. SPEAKER: Order, order. Can the hon. member explain how she was gagged yesterday?

MS. ZINDI: Thank you hon. Speaker. I am referring to your ruling in which you said you cannot mention any unsubstantiated information in this Parliament unless if it is by way of a motion and that such information may be presented in a documentary form, CD or DVD, to substantiate the information that a member would have divulged in this august House.

MR. SPEAKER: Was the Chair gagging you or it is the Constitution saying that?

MRS. ZINDI: Hon. Speaker, when I am referring to gagging possibly, I am taking the media’s term of saying gag, but I am referring to the hon. Speaker’s ruling.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. member has not answered my question. My question is, is it the Speaker gagging you or it is the supreme law, which is clearly stated in your Order Paper, pages 531 right up to page 533?

MS. ZINDI: Mr. Speaker Sir. I concede it is the Constitution.

MR. SPEAKER: The Chair kindly requests you to withdraw the word gagging.

MS. ZINDI: I humbly withdraw, Mr. Speaker, the word gagging.

MR. SPEAKER: Hon. member, if you can continue.

MS. ZINDI: Thank you Mr. Speaker. I am saying that these State enterprises cannot be in a position to implement the ZIM ASSET if the situation is left undressed. It is my humble opinion that the investigations initiated by the Office of the President and Cabinet should lead to the public exposure of the salaries of the following Government State enterprises, for example ZIMRA.

Why am I mentioning ZIMRA? Because we have heard unsubstantiated statements of the CEO earning US$310 000 and the only way we can substantiate and verify whether the CEO is earning US$310 000 is to have or to carry out an investigation or enquiry into ZIMRA and whoever is found otherwise, they will have to apologise for that statement.

Another example is the Grain Marketing Board and ZINARA. We have heard of so many scandalous tenders and roads that are not complete, but money would have been spent. The other one is NSSA. I have personally approached Hon. Goche, about the operations of NSSA and the investments that they are carrying out or implementing into almost banks which are on the verge of collapsing and millions of pensioners’ funds are poured into those banks. This is why I am citing NSSA as well that we should make an enquiry into their investments and operations.

The other ones are Net One, Tel One, National Railways of Zimbabwe and ZESA. I am sure ZESA is a topical issue as we speak because of the awarding of the prepaid meters tender. It is said that there is another office which is going, around connecting consumers without going through the ZESA system. The whole issue, for somebody without the capacity to comprehend what goes on exactly in terms of the prepaid meter connections – you may scream at the top of your voice and say possibly, ZESA is being brought down to zero in terms of revenue generation through corrupt activities. So, the only way we can make it known to people out there that there is nothing of that sort that is being done is to carry out an enquiry and make that information public.

The other ones are State Enterprises and here we are talking of all local authorities, both urban and rural. For example, ZINWA, Air Zimbabwe and ZUPCO just to mention a few. Mr. Speaker, I would actually say the list above is not exhaustive. It is only through making the salaries public that confidence of the citizens will be restored in these institutions. In trying to address the problem, we must ask ourselves various pertinent questions.

The first question we must ask is, have ministries been adequately supervising parastatals that fall under their jurisdiction? Mr. Speaker, the rot in Government enterprises has been a result of lack of supervision by the relevant ministries. That is my assumption Mr. Speaker. For a long time we have concentrated, I want to believe, on politics and left the Chief Executive Officers and the Boards of State Enterprises to operate like fiefdoms. They were virtually not accountable to anyone. That is how I see it Mr. Speaker Sir.

The other question that comes to mind is: where is the Ministry? I understand we do have within the Ministry of Finance, a unit on economic intelligence. I thought possibly it was this unit which was supposed to unearth all these unethical salaries being awarded to CEOs in State owned Enterprises, but I am sure very few of us know of the existence of this unit. Whatever they do in the Ministry of Finance, we are yet to be appraised.

Mr. Speaker, we should also ask ourselves how boards of State Enterprises are appointed. Why am I asking this question? One person sits almost on 20 boards. The other day I read in the paper that one person was sitting on 20 boards. If there is rot in this board, it means it cuts across all the 20 boards.

Another question is, if he sits on 20 boards, at least give him a day to each board and he is left with only 10 days to work in his company. That company still posts superb profits being headed by the very same person who is sitting in these 20 boards. The question then is: how these boards are being appointed. Some appointments have revealed outright favouritism, nepotism and cronyism. Somebody was saying to me the other day that if you want to notice that there is cronyism and nepotism in these appointments in State owned companies, if there is one relative of the CEO who passes on, the whole section will go to the funeral and that is a clear sign which people are observing. That is when nepotism, favouritism and cronyism come to light.

I will tell you my personal experience the other day. I was phoning ZESA wanting to speak to the Finance Manager. When I phoned and asked for the person I wanted to speak to, I was transferred and I told the person on the other side that I just wanted to find out how far they had gone with paying my outstanding dues. The man asked who was on the line and I told him who I was and why I was phoning. I was a bit disturbed because this amount has taken time to be reimbursed. So, I was not waiting for any other explanations because all I wanted was my money. The man then said no, I am not the one. That one is my brother.

You see Mr. Speaker, that is how you can tell the cronyism and favouritism that is going on in these State Enterprises. A good example Mr. Speaker Sir, is at PSMAS. I am informed that the Corporate Secretary, I would not mention his name until possibly when we make our enquiries and verify, that is when we will make the information public. This gentleman at PSMAS, is in partnership with a certain law firm and they are based in Milton Park. The partner, one would believe then, is sitting on PSMAS in order to create job opportunities for this law firm. That is the conclusion that comes to one’s mind when it is like that.

We should also ask ourselves the question – is this not the time to review the Corporate Governance Code? As I said earlier this code was launched by Gorden Moyo who was then, the Minister for State Enterprises, but it never found its place in terms of implementation in the whole system of managing the State Enterprises. The problems at the State Enterprises have been happening despite the existence of this code Mr. Speaker. I would like to suggest that the code be reviewed to include a provision that puts limits to…

MR. SPEAKER: Order, if the hon. member can be guided by the motion. Reading very carefully the motion, it says awaiting with interest the launch of the 2012 Government of Zimbabwe Framework on Corporate Governance and Guidelines. This presupposes therefore that the framework has not been launched. Perhaps what the hon. member is saying is crafted by Hon. Gorden Moyo when he was Minister responsible for Parastatals and State Enterprises. Otherwise you will be contradicting your motion.

MS. ZINDI: I stand guided by you Mr. Speaker but …

MR. MADZIMURE: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. I do not know whether I should call it a point of correction. The actual framework was launched at the HICC by His Excellency the President and it was signed, therefore it is a Government document as we speak.

MR. SPEAKER: The Chair is also making a point of order, I am meant to understand that the hon. member moving the amendment had consulted yourself, the primary mover of the motion.

MS ZINDI: Hon. Speaker, the Corporate Governance Code was launched and His Excellency the President assented his signature to that corporate governance code. Therefore, it is in existence and earlier on in my motion, if you heard me correctly, I actually said that, in that code the suggestion and recommendations were that CEOs’ salaries, at most, should be pegged at $6 000. That means the code is already in existence. Do I make myself clear Hon. Speaker?

MR. SPEAKER: No, you are confusing the situation. Hon. Zindi, can you refer to your correction, to amendment paragraph 1, 2, 3 and 4. Can you kindly read it for the House please?

MS. ZINDI: Oh, I see it Hon. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: No, I said read it.

MS. ZINDI: “Awaiting with interest the launch on the 2012 Government of Zimbabwe Framework on Corporate Governance and guidelines”. Can I correct it, Hon. Speaker?

MR. SPEAKER: Do you see where the confusion is hon. member? I suggest that perhaps you correct that paragraph.

MS. ZINDI: Yes, Hon. Speaker. I see where the confusion is but –

MR. SPEAKER: Just move for the correction please.

MS. ZINDI: Awaiting implementation of the 2012 Government of Zimbabwe Framework on Corporate Governance and Guidelines which has already been launched for its implementation, Mr. Speaker. That is my correction. I also want to say, on this note, Hon. Speaker, –

MR. SPEAKER: Can you repeat the correction please?

MS. ZINDI: The correction reads, ‘Awaiting with interest the implementation of the 2012 Government of Zimbabwe Framework on Corporate Governance and Guidelines”.

Amendment to motion put and agreed to.

MR. SPEAKER: Excellent. You may proceed.

MS. ZINDI: Also, Hon. Speaker, if you may allow me; moving this motion has proved to be a mammoth task for me. It was not easy and I needed to mention that. The day I was supposed to have moved this motion I was informed after …

MR. SPEAKER: Hon. member, please continue with your beautiful delivery after the amendment.

MS. ZINDI: Mr. Speaker, I was just mentioning the existence of a partnership in a law firm based in Milton Park and the partnership involving the Corporate Secretary being in partnership with this law firm. At the same time, that Corporate Secretary is in this partnership with this law firm, perhaps with intentions to get jobs from PSMAS for this law firm and this is where I was bringing the element of favouritism, cronyism and nepotism.

Mr. Speaker, we should also ask ourselves the question, is this not the time to review the corporate governance code? I think I had already done this where I was mentioning Gorden Moyo having launched it in 2012 when he was the State Enterprise Minister and His Excellency, the President having accepted it by putting his signature and a foreword to that corporate governance code.

I would like to suggest that the code be reviewed, Mr. Speaker, to include a provision that puts limits to the number of boards a person can sit on. At most, I am suggesting a person to sit on not more than two boards. This will avoid a repetition of a situation where people like, I think I am at liberty to mention Mr. Cuthbert Dube having to sit on 20 boards.

We are not short, I want to believe and I am sure you will support me Mr. Speaker, that we are not short of manpower in this country. If at all, we are rated one of the highest in terms of literacy level in Africa. So therefore, I do not think we are in short supply of human capital. Therefore, I am recommending that one person should at least sit on one or two boards. It ends there.

The governance code should also address the issue of the tenure of the different boards, that is, for how long a person can serve on a board and for how many times one is eligible for re-election on that board or on those two boards, if at all one sits on two boards. We should allow for leadership renewal and we are always talking about leadership renewal.

It does not mean it is only in politics where we want leadership renewal but also on these boards, we want leadership renewal. Mr. Speaker, sitting on various boards has become a symbol of ostentation.

Mr. Speaker, we should also ask ourselves a pertinent question – have we, as Parliament played our oversight role effectively? I ask this question because Section 119 (3) of the new Constitution states that, “…all institutions and agencies of the State at every level are accountable to Parliament”. Despite this, we have institutions that have operated devoid of any accountability for a very long time.

I refer here to the State Procurement Board (SPB) which has been operating in an opaque manner and in the process, raised a lot of concerns relating to corrupt activities in the awarding of tenders. I would want to propose that the SPB should report regularly to the Finance and Budget Committee on its operations. As Parliament, we should proceed to exercise our oversight role efficiently and diligently.

Mr. Speaker Sir, I think we should also ask ourselves the question – are the Independent Commissions created by the new Constitution accountable to Parliament? I ask this question because we have received various interpretations of the provisions relating to Independent Commissions in the new Constitution. The thrust of the dominating interpretation has been that the Independent Commissions are beyond the scrutiny of Parliament. If they are beyond the scrutiny of Parliament, who then are they accountable to Mr. Speaker? If there are problems in the execution of their various mandates, who can the public approach for recourse?

Indeed, as Members of Parliament, we are alive to the provision of Section 235 (1) (a) of the Constitution which states that, “Independent Commissions are independent and are not subject to the direction or control of anyone”. Mr. Speaker Sir, this provision, I believe, must not be read in isolation, but together with Section 235 (1) (c) of the new Constitution. It states that, “Independent Commissions must exercise their functions without fear, favour or prejudice, although they are accountable to Parliament for the efficient performance of their functions”.

I hope I am very clear on that. This section of the independence of Independent Commissions should not be read in isolation of this section which I have just read. These Independent Commissions should be under the scrutiny of Parliament if they are not going to be havens and breeding grounds for corruption.

Mr. Speaker, in conclusion, I would want to propose the establishment of an ad hoc Parliamentary Committee to look into the issue of obscene salaries bedeviling State enterprises. I propose that the following members sit on the ad hoc committee.
1. Hon. I. Zindi (Chair)
2. Hon. D. Shumba (Deputy Chair)
3. Hon. W. Madzimure
4. Hon. R. Labode
5. Hon. J. Toffa
6. Hon. M. Chimene
7. Hon. J. Chinotimba
8. Hon. S. Mahoka
9. Hon. O. Mandipaka
10. Hon. J. T. Samkange
11. Hon. E. Mbwembwe
12. Hon. B. Nyamupinga
13. Hon. T. Mliswa
14. Hon. Senator Chief Charumbira
15. Hon. Chikwama
16. Hon. Senator C. Chizema
17. Hon. M. Hlongwane and
18. Hon. S. Chikwinya

The terms of reference are:

To investigate companies being awarded tenders by the SPB within the parastatals, local authorities and hospitals.
To investigate the manner in which the SPB adjudicates and awards tenders.
To investigate all State enterprise boards and the criteria used to appoint board members.
To determine the role of Ministers and Permanent Secretaries in determining salaries, perks and conditions of service for Chief Executive Officers and top management in all State enterprises and local authorities.
To determine the role played by the Ministers and Permanent Secretaries in ensuring sound corporate governance in all State enterprises and local authorities

THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER: Order hon. member. In terms of Standing Order, Rule 157, it is the Committee on the Standing Rules and Orders which appoints members on the ad hoc Committee and gives it the terms of reference. The member can only recommend.

MS. ZINDI: I take note of your observation Hon. Speaker but I have already made recommendations and I am making recommendations as well on the terms of reference for the ad hoc Committee. I have given the names and if you so wish, through that Committee that is supposed to appoint, I have made my recommendations. Thank you. Mr. Speaker, just to finalise on the terms of reference…

THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER: Hon. member, I do not think that there is any point to continue when I have already indicated that in terms of that Standing Order Rules.

MS. ZINDI: What about the terms of reference, are they also given?

THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER: Yes, I have already …

MS. ZINDI: But I can make a recommendation, can I not?

THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER: You can make the recommendations.

MS. ZINDI: So can I finish off making my recommendations because if I can make recommendations, I must finish and then it will be up to you to decide whether to take them on board or not?

THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER: You cannot make recommendations but you can recommend an ad hoc Committee.

MS. ZINDI: Are you saying, I can recommend within the ad hoc Committee when it sits. Is that how you are saying it, because I am not following?

THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER: I have said, it is the Committee on Standing Rules and Orders which appoints members of an ad hoc Committee and gives it the terms of reference. The hon. member can only recommend.

MS. ZINDI: Thank you Mr. Speaker. That is what I wanted to clarify with you, that I am already making my recommendations. Can I make recommendations? I am waiting for your ruling.

THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER: You may proceed in making your recommendations hon. member.

MS. ZINDI: Thank you Mr. Speaker, that is exactly what I wanted. In further making my recommendations to conclude on the terms of reference, I had said;
To get an appreciation of the terms of reference of the various State enterprise boards.
To investigate allegations of Ministers getting motor vehicles and other perks from State enterprises and local authorities.
To specifically investigate operations and investments by NSSA.
To investigate the role of the Office of the President and Cabinet in the processing of board appointments in the State enterprises and local authorities.
To investigate nepotism, cronyism and regionalism in boards, managerial and staff appointments.
To receive information from the public relating to corrupt activities in State enterprises and local authorities and finally,
To revisit any past corrupt activities in State enterprises and local authorities. I thank you.

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Charles Rukuni
The Insider is a political and business bulletin about Zimbabwe, edited by Charles Rukuni. Founded in 1990, it was a printed 12-page subscription only newsletter until 2003 when Zimbabwe's hyper-inflation made it impossible to continue printing.

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