Auxilia Katongomara, Business Reporter
NON-functioning parastatals deserve to be shut down as they are costing the Government through accruing huge wage bills with no dividend to the major shareholder.
Finance and Economic Development Minister Patrick Chinamasa said this in Parliament last Thursday during a Question and Answer session with legislators.
He said some parastatals closed a long time ago but were still accruing huge wage bills paying staff that is not doing any production.
“The issue that arises, especially from the railways (National Railways of Zimbabwe) and any other parastatal or whether we are talking about Zisco, those companies closed a long time ago but the people remain employed and the unpaid salary bill continues escalating, even though they are playing tsoro,” said Minister Chinamasa.
“They have been playing tsoro for 10 years now and yet it is still being accepted that they remain on the payroll. When we say let us restructure, Honourable Members here stand up and say, ‘do not retrench anyone’.
“You mean that it is good business to remunerate someone who has not been working for 12 years, not one person, no production but remunerate them for playing tsoro. This is for the reason that we lack the courage to take decisions which are business-like.”
Several parastatals are operating below capacity due to a myriad of challenges such as lack of funding, mismanagement and alleged corruption, competition and skills flight. The Government has said it is working on a policy to reform parastatals so that they play their leading role in revamping the economy.
Minister Chinamasa said non-performing parastatals must close shop instead of continuing to make losses.
“Any person who is running a business knows that if they are not making money, they close the business. Honourable Speaker Sir, I want us to understand that,” he said.
“If we look at the railways, infrastructure is in a dilapidated state and these are problems that have accumulated over many years. As long as we have not resuscitated the railways, it does not matter what we do by way of rehabilitation of roads, they will soon be damaged because the loads are quite heavy”.
Minister Chinamasa said he was aware of the situation in parastatals but needed ideas on how to generate revenue.
“I do not want us in future to spend much more time talking about the situation. I am more conversant with the situation right across the board. What I would want us to do, is to dwell more on what we can do to recover our economy, earn more money and revenue.
“Those ideas are not available. That is my primary mandate, but I would want us to spend more time dwelling on issues to do with what we can do to create businesses which pay taxes,” said Minister Chinamasa.
He said Bulawayo was once the industrial hub of the country hence investors must be identified to find out what they wanted in terms of incentives to bring back the city to its former glory.
Minister Chinamasa was responding to a question by Pumula legislator Cde Godfrey Malaba who asked what had happened to the Distressed Marginalised Areas Fund (DIMAF) that was allocated to Bulawayo firms in previous years.
Cde Malaba also queried the budget allocation for the resuscitation of Bulawayo industries and parastatals such as the National Railways of Zimbabwe and Cold Storage Company.