Editor's Comment

Yes, parastatals can be money spinners

MSISKA

OVER the years, some – if not most – parastatals instead of supporting Government by fulfilling their role as engines of economic development, have turned out to be liabilities.Instead of declaring dividends to Government, many such companies have been going with a begging bowl to ask for funding.
While there are many factors that have pushed many parastatals into such dire situations, the work attitude of employees is certainly one of those topping the list.
In parastatals like the civil service, the work attitude of many employees leaves much to be desired.
Parastatals which are quasi-government institutions are also characterised by bad work ethics such as late coming, absenteeism, alcoholism, idling during work hours among others.
Unlike in the private sector where employees are conscious of competition, for those in parastatals, it has always been business as usual probably knowing that their backs are covered by “big brother” or shareholder in the name of Government.
This has pushed some parastatals to a place where they fail to meet their financial obligations and fall far short of declaring dividends to the shareholder.
While the picture may seem gloomy, all hope is not lost.
As rightly noted by Secretary to the Cabinet Roland Msiska, parastatals can still be transformed into profitable entities.
However, this has to start by transforming the mindset of employees.
It is a documented fact that human resource is key to the productivity and success of any company.
For a company to succeed, its employees must have the right attitude and skills set.
“People are critical in the process of development. In Singapore, they hire for attitude and not just qualifications. Qualifications are easy to get but not attitude. I can have a doctor of Philosophy but lack attitude and that consequently affects my performance,” Dr Msiska said.
Parastatals need to firm up their recruitment processes to ensure that they hire not only for aptitude but attitude as well.
There is certainly need for mindset change in parastatals to be able to transform the entities into profit-making companies.
It is indisputable that when recapitalisation meets positive work attitude, success is guaranteed.
In its bid to revamp parastatals, most of which were at the verge of collapsing, Government established the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) as an umbrella body.
IDC is supervising over 30 parastatals under its ambit to help revive those that are limping and reinforce the few that are making profits and declaring dividends.
It is encouraging that for the first time in many decades, we are now seeing some parastatals declaring dividends.
Zambia Forestry and Forests Corporation, Zambia State Insurance Company and Indo- Zambia Bank are among the few companies that have recently declared dividends to the IDC.
During a visit to Zambia Daily Mail recently, IDC Group Chief Executive Officer Mateyo Kaluba urged the company to realign its operations with international market trends to withstand competition from emerging media platforms.
Such is a message that applies to all other companies in the IDC Group.
Combined efforts should sooner than later begin to turn around the fortunes of most, if not all, parastatals for them to be money-spinners.

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