Minister Shamu in party regalia at a NetOne official event. On the left is NetOne MD, Reward Kangai.Today I came across an interesting article published in the Herald entitled “Tolerating incompetence can be costly for Zanu-PF”, by Amai Jukwa. It’s not every day that you come across anything criticising Zanu-PF from the Herald or Amai Jukwa. This was one of the few cases and even that too failed to address the crux of the issue.The infamous Amia Jukwa was rightly challenging the ruling party to get rid of perennial failures in our parastatals. Jonathan Moyo has been first to make the bold move by removing the entire ZBC board and putting senior management on forced leave and although this is commendable, we should not expect heads to roll at other under-performing state enterprises, especially NetOne.
Just recently at the re-launch of NetOne’s OneWallet, Minister of ICT, Webster Shamu more or less assured NetOne’s MD Reward Kangai that his job was safe and he was not going anywhere, whether he performs or not. In fact this follows years of quite dismal performance by the mobile operator.
The event, which could have easily been mistaken for a Zanu PF rally (Minister Shamu was wearing party regalia by the way), was a clear indication of how the patronage system had crept into our parastatals. “You are safe”, the minister proclaimed amid cheers and applause from invited guests.
How can such blatant and shameful patronage be tolerated? Is there truly any form of accountability at NetOne? Is it the right thing to praise repeated failure and to guarantee a safe and secure job to the leaders who oversee it? How can a person who sat on a $14.4 million dollar loss in 2010 be safe? How can a person with a string of corruption and mismanagement allegations stretching back to 2004 remain on the job, with guaranteed safety?
This lack of professionalism means only a handful government owned companies make profit and the single most uttered excuse for failure is sanctions – an overplayed song. Underperformers should simply walk or be forced to and ministers like Webster Shamu should know better than to guarantee job safety to underperformers. In any case, the failures at NetOne reflect the failure of the parent ministry and maybe we should be looking at responsible ministries before the we look at the MDs.