Once again, Zimbabwe has been presented with yet another blueprint, a product of some of the nation’s best brains which is meant to right the many wrongs that have contributed to the nation’s economic calamity.
The Oracle byu Tangai Chipangura
Countless similar works of brilliance have over the years been put together at enormous cost but they have all remained ideas put on paper, launched amid great pomp and ceremony but ending up in academic cemeteries after failing to gain practical support and will power from the powers that be.
In some instances, these blueprints have failed to see light of day because of lack of resources to implement the brilliant ideas, but in other cases they were discarded because they threatened to close the dark avenues through which those that were meant to implement or enforce them amassed their ill-gotten wealth.
Last week I had the opportunity to be introduced to the nitty-gritties of the latest such blueprint — the Zimbabwe Code on Corporate Governance — a conglomeration of ideas that I must say, provided me with the much needed lift to the spirit — a new hope. Throughout the narrative by lawyer Cannan Dube and business director Johannes Mudzengerere, my critical mind raced around looking for holes. I found none.
Dube and Mudzengerere are chairman and vice-chair of the board that led the team of professionals, academics and businesspersons who, since 2009, have been working to put this Code together after realising the need for the creation of a framework that can support the salvaging of Zimbabwe from the economic cesspit where it currently squats.
The Code, according to Dube, still requires endorsement by key players and needs total buy-in by every Zimbabwean. Importantly too, the Code, which must be seen “to be fair and not political”, seeks to govern the manner by which black empowerment and indigenisation are implemented and must be accompanied by the updating of the Companies Act.
One of the features of this Code is to banish the concentration of corporate power as a way of avoiding the abuse of that power while it provides fair means by which to resolve corporate disputes, as well as putting in place ways of regulating the regulators of that Code.
What remains to be seen now is whether the authorities and the corporate world who have all taken an active role in the production of the Code, are going to embrace their product and abide by its requirements.
Are our parastatals going to accept to have the huge salaries that their managers are entitled to slashed? Are they going to accept to follow the new corporate governance rules even it they threaten their feeding troughs or their masters’ political bedrocks?
Is the private sector too willing to embrace a new order that limits their spheres of influence, where for instance, a board member must not be CEO of companies they oversee? Are companies willing to go by the accounting requirements of the Code that may seek to probe even the size of their pockets or source of their wealth?
This is the kind of support that this Code requires for it to stand up and be seen to change Zimbabwe’s economic landscape. It requires a nation of individuals dedicated to change their way of doing things. It needs a nation with a conscience to choose right from wrong and hard, honest work from laziness and corruption mentality.
The document has now been published and was officially launched by then Acting President Emmerson Mnangagwa on behalf of President Robert Mugabe some two weeks ago.
The fact that the idea has the support of the President is indeed refreshing. It gives impetus to implementation and enforcement efforts and provides the hope that the document will not find itself under some carpet!
“Every citizen should feel a sense of pride that in terms of Chapter 9 of the new Constitution, the State is required to ‘adopt and implement policies and legislation to develop efficiency, competence, accountability, transparency, personal integrity and financial probity in all institutions and agencies of government at every level and in every public institution…,’” President Mugabe said of the Code.
“By complying with this Code, we will all be playing our part in building a Zimbabwe that values good leadership and accountability and, in the process, we will be building companies that will last well beyond this generation, leaving a proud legacy in the footprints of time,” he added.
Granted, there are many that will find traces of insincerity, even hypocrisy in this presidential commitment for reasons to do with Mugabe’s own political failures and accountability for present national predicament. But, forget political rhetoric and take a hard look at the National Code on Corporate Governance. It is not possible to throw it away as one of those — because it is not.
What is required of Dube and Mudzengerere is not to allow this breath of fresh air blow away. The fact that the Code is a product of some of Zimbabwe’s best brains in all sectors of the economy, gives it the all-important independent outlook which provides credence, confidence and acceptability.
Contributions to the Code came from Commerce, Industry, Consumers, Universities, Accountants, Insurance, Bankers, Company Directors, Engineers, Lawyers, Miners and other key national stakeholders.
As a nation, we can only ignore this idea at our own peril!