Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Golden Parachutes Zimbabwe Style

For several years I have watched in amazement as Zimbabwean Chief Executives of under-performing companies are sent off into the sunset with magnificent ‘packages’. This week we have the best of them all. Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (ZESA) has been under-performing for years. In truth, ZESA has been responsible for a large slice of the collapsed economy through its inability to provide power to agriculture, commerce and industry. Gold and Asbestos mines have closed due to flooding due to lack of power to pump out water from the workings; factories have closed due to lack of power to run machinery. Irrigated crops have not been grown because of the inability to pump water. And ordinary homes are subject to load shedding of mammoth proportions. In 1994 ZESA employed 2,500 people. By 2010 they were employing 8,500 people. Preventive maintenance that used to be done in the old (Rhodesia) days does not happen anymore. A short ride, walk or drive around the suburbs will reveal hundreds of trees infringing on the power lines. Close to where I Iive there are power lines dragging on the ground that have been that way for as long as I can remember. Business has had to invest in emergency generating capacity, import millions of litres of petrol and diesel to run them. When I asked John Robertson, the economist, how much had been spent on ‘emergency’ power supplies his response was ‘enough to build another power station’.

So with this kind of history, it is natural to blame the Chief Executive. I mean who else is responsible? This week the CEO of ZESA was awarded a $2 million exit package for his contribution to the nation! That’s 14 million Rand. There are few pople working in ZESA who will earn that kind of money in a lifetime. And where’s the money coming from? Where else but the consumer. It is not right – it is evil.

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