Government is introducing substantive salary caps for heads of public entities, and those who breach them will be prosecuted. The State will also seize assets and wealth amassed from looting public funds. The Public Entities Corporate Governance Bill – gazetted on Friday – requires heads of parastatals, State enterprises and local authorities to sign performance contracts with Government.
The Bill assigns line ministers the responsibility to monitor the entities, including determining allowances; and excludes permanent secretaries from appointment to public boards.
It also proposes creation of a Corporate Governance Unit in the Office of the President and Cabinet to co-ordinate compliance with the Zimbabwe Corporate Governance and Remuneration Policy Framework.
Further, no one will be allowed to sit on more than two boards concurrently, and board members can only serve two four-year terms.
The measures are in line with Government’s grand effort to curb corruption; boost service delivery; improve economic efficiency, growth and stability; and encourage investment.
The Bill “will underline the responsibility of line ministries (those ministries whose minister is responsive for any public entity) to more effectively monitor, supervise and oversee the management operations of public entities to ensure strict compliance by them with the provisions of this Bill, without, however, infringing on the autonomy of public entities.
“It outlines the role and functions of the Corporate Governance Unit within the Office of the President and Cabinet as a centralised advisory, oversight and support system for line ministries with regard to the implementation of the Bill.
“It will introduce some consistency in the conditions of service of members of boards of public entities. In particular, it will require members to enter into performance contracts with the Government and will allow their salaries and allowances to be limited”.
It continues: “Similarly, it will regulate the conditions of service of chief executive officers and other senior staff members of public entities and will allow their remuneration to be limited.
“It will give effect to the National Code on Corporate Governance Zimbabwe (ZimCode) to the extent that it applies to public entities.”
Clause 12 empowers the responsible minister to structure sitting allowances, out-of-pocket expenses and other payments for board members.
In addition, board members will be required to declare their assets when they are appointed or removed from public entities.
Section 25 (6) reads, “If a person, having entered into a performance contract in terms of this section, contravenes a condition referred to in subsection (3) or any other condition of the contract – (a) notwithstanding anything to the contrary in the enabling instrument of the public entity concerned, the contravention shall be a ground for removing the member from office;
“(b) whether or not the member has been removed from office, the line minister or the public entity concerned may by proceedings in a competent court recover from him or her, as a debt due to the entity –
“(i) the amount or value of any damage or loss suffered by the entity as a result of the contravention; and (ii) the amount or value of any profit or advantage that accrued to him or her or to any other person he or she intended to benefit through the contravention.”