There was a strong ray of hope when Finance and Economic Development Minister Professor Mthuli Ncube promised various changes amongst them was the big move to partially privatize State Owned Enterprises.
The measures contained in the recently expired economic blue-print, the Transitional Stabilisation Programme (TSP) suggested that at least 11 State-owned enterprises face privatization under the Government’s public enterprises reform framework for 2018-2020.
The document further stated that some would be liquidated, merged or departmentalised.
“Government will expedite the implementation of the Cabinet decision on restructuring, partial or full privatisation of entities. The reform measures for immediate implementation over the period 2018-2020 target the privatisation of 11 State-owned enterprises, six IDC subsidiaries, and 17 ZMDC subsidiaries,” said Prof Ncube then.
Among the companies targeted for partial privatization were technology entities like NetOne, TelOne and Zimpost, these have not been financially viable before slowly turning around to record profits, but still need better investment vehicles outside the cash strapped government.
The privatization deal conclusions had a timeline of nine months at most.
Almost three years later, nothing has been done to that effect, a sad development that has seen some companies notably NetOne facing boardroom squabbles.
In his recent interview Prof Mthuli said, “…there are three classes of parastatals, one, those that needed to be liquidated, number two, those that need to be departmentalize within the line ministries and number three those that needed to be partially privatized. The process of liquidating certain parastatals is here, so we have managed to do that. So we have achieved that.
Mthuli went on to say they have since departmentalized some government run companies.
The Minister, however, confirmed that they haven’t yet achieved the partial privatization due to a number of factors.
“…its about the other category which is partial privatization or some other forms of instruction that were things have been slow because you have to go through a process, procuring the right advisors, negotiating contracts with them and eventually you get to the stage where an advisor is chosen through a necessary procurement because we are using public funds and then they go out to solicit bidders to come and invest and that takes time,” he said.
Parastatals used to contribute more than 40% in annual GDP in the 90s.