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Parastatals must be results-driven

Parastatals must be results-driven An aerial view of the $250 million Tokwe-Mukosi Dam in Chivi
An aerial view of the $250 million Tokwe-Mukosi Dam in Chivi

An aerial view of the $250 million Tokwe-Mukosi Dam in Chivi

Victoria Ruzvidzo In Focus
It was Elbert Hubbard who boldly said: “There is no failure except in no longer trying. There is no defeat except from within, no insurmountable barrier except our own inherent weakness of purpose.”

These words hold true about Zimbabwe at this juncture. While the economy is experiencing challenges that appear quite colossal sometimes, better results can be achieved through focus, commitment and persistence on a set recovery strategy. No one will come from Mars, Pluto or any other planet to do it for us but we need to remain steadfast in our endeavours while making every effort to depart from those concepts or habits that are harmful to the economy.

We need to continue telling ourselves that our tomorrow depends on our choices and our habits today and we should naturally choose a progressive path. We need to keep at it, trying harder and harder until results come through.

The commissioning yesterday of the $1 billion dualisation of the Harare- Beitbridge Highway and the $250 million Tokwe-Mukosi Dam in Chivi is a case in point and these are two examples of what this country can do if we remain resolute that we will reach the land of milk and honey sooner rather than later. That road to our Canaan may be littered with potholes and meanders but we should remain steadfast.

Infrastructure development is one of the main pillars on which the survival and growth of the economy is anchored hence every dollar directed towards such initiatives as the two commissioned yesterday will bring a good return on investment in terms of jobs and wealth creation and other benefits this country is yearning for.

All stakeholders must, of necessity, apply their minds to getting the economy going. Not that there is much of a choice because as Zimbabweans this is the only place we call home without a slur. It is thus in our own interest that we make our home as comfortable as we can.

As a nation, a glorious one at that, all our efforts should be strategic and sincere. In the final analysis, it is the incontestable results or outcomes which justify all else.

In this instance, we appreciate that while efforts are being made to get the economy going including those mentioned above, another critical and oft overlooked success factor is the management of both public and private enterprises.

It goes without saying that both enterprises are mutually dependent and symbiotic.

By and large, public enterprises are primarily focused on the provision of services to the public at large such as infrastructure and utilities, health and education, while private companies are primarily seized with meeting market- driven needs.

Indeed, it is easy to discern that public and private enterprises’ interests are not exclusive of each other as they often merge, and the difference is sometimes attributable to ownership.

This instalment is motivated by a lack of results and delivery in a worrying number of entities which resonates in the entire economy.

Being busy does not always bring forth the expected results. Nor does being preoccupied with something. Tragically this is all too evident in both private and public enterprises.

It is no secret that public enterprises are haemorrhaging the economy and have been at it for too long a time. They are one of the major reasons the economy is limping today. Their failure to adapt to new technology and more modern systems of doing things and poor corporate governance systems continue to compromise progress.

What is required are results-driven performance management systems that ensure these entities contribute their share to the Gross Domestic Product instead of milking the little that is available. You can imagine what a sound National Railways of Zimbabwe can do to this economy.

We all know what an adequate and consistent power supply system would do to industrial production and we need no rocket scientist to tell us what a sound urban public transport system would do to productivity and commerce.

Therefore, this country’s firms – both public and private – could do with results-based initiatives that can propel the economy to better operational levels. It all rests with the adoption of sound management systems.

The Minister of Finance and the governor of the central bank have cried hoarse on the effects of ailing paratstatals on the economy and what needs to be done.

The concept of accountability must be operationally defined and any results- driven organisation is guided by this principle. The lethargy and laxity, more prevalent in public enterprises than in private ones, negatively impacts on our national goals.

The business world we live in is rapidly and radically changing, with changes punctuating every level of its practice. We too must evolve with it and ensure that firms adapt accordingly.

A number of challenges confront this economy such as untenable employment figures, grossly inadequate production levels, scant export receipts, soft aggregate demands, unsustainable imports, budget deficit, poor service delivery, delapidated infrastructure and company closures.

Add to that cumbersome and convoluted bureaucratic processes, and the glaring need for results-driven organisations becomes easily discernible.

ZIMRA has come to the party, witness how they have embraced technology in their operations, how they spell quite succinctly their targets and how they go all out to attain them.

Its a results-driven organisation which fully appreciates its critical role in the economy and this has cascaded down to their employees. Of course, they have not arrived yet but the effort is evident.

Why can’t other entities follow suit? All manner of excuses are proffered such as lack of capital or a hostile operating environment, among others, but all efforts should be made to circumvent or overcome such challenges.

My exhortation is that entities work within their means or formulate strategies to raise funds innovately because, in the end, we seek no less than tangible delivery.

Treasury is yearning for every dollar it can get to fund capital projects and recurrent costs hence transcendent efforts and systems, which are results-driven, will augment revenues and spur growth.

A business ethos anchored on high performance will catapult us to greater heights.

As a nation we must be seized with factors within our control and not those without.

We can hardly control commodity prices on the global markets, can we? But we certainly can diversify and up the ante in our production.

This is feasible only if we are delivery-centric, with exacting, yet pragmatic standards to meet our respective areas.

The magnitude of consumption and opportunism prevalent as opposed to productivity belies the sincerity of transformational intentions.

Our actions, and in comes cases, lack thereof are an indictment on our entire business ethos.

Our slant should and must be on envisaged outcomes.

What is the risk profile of our endeavours? Operationally, reputationally, strategically?Are we alive to environmental scanning? Are we doing all we can to transform plans to performance, rhetoric to reality, objectives to outcomes?

These are some of the questions which occupy results-driven entities and our parastatals and some private sector firms need to ask these questions because there is no alternative but to deliver.

Admittedly the size of operations often defines the levels of complexity. The bigger the entity, the more complex the issues one has to contend with.

Thus an entire economy is more complex often with a need to balance conflicting interests.

As we set our objectives and list how we will achieve them, modern management advises us to prioritise those actions which yield the greatest results relative to our goals. It is often humanly impossible to do all we should, yet this rational approach will edge us close to our aspirations.

As a nation, shoddy services, short- changing, stagnation, retrogression, under-performance must be an abomination if we desire to see a better tomorrow.

The economy needs parastatals that bring convenience to the economy and not adverse effects. We need to be firing from all cylinders to achieve the results that we so much desire as a country.

Let’s sing from the same hymn book, our individual soprano, alto, baritone and tenor must produce that melodious tune that will bring the Zimbabwe we want.

In God I Trust!

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