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Zinara has turned a new leaf

by Staff reporter
05 Mar 2021 at 06:51hrs | Views
THE Grant Thornton Forensic Audit commissioned by the Ministry of Transport and Infrastructural Development in 2016 highlighted several corporate governance deficiencies at the Zimbabwe National Road Administration in view of its legislative mandate.

The malpractices included overstepping of Zinara's mandate by the then executive, awarding of unapproved allowances and improper recruitment of staff among other things.

After the audit, Grant Thornton made key recommendations for implementation to align Zinara to its legislative mandate and the public has been following with keen interest to see if the recommendations are being applied.

Indeed, the recommendations of the forensic audit were implemented, and a few outstanding issues are at advanced stages of implementation.

Corruption

To start with, corruption which was cited as endemic at Zinara is now a legacy issue and findings of the audit report which are of a criminal nature were referred to the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission and prosecutions are at various levels.

The new board of directors at Zinara has halted the implementation of road projects and restricted the institution to its legislative role of fixing road user charges, collecting and disbursing road funds to the road authorities.

Further, Zinara now have a new executive with the new CEO having been recruited in September 2020. The new executive has sought to address the Grant Thornton Forensic Audit issues to avoid recurrence and has since established a Loss Control division and a Procurement Management Unit to bring more accountability.

Systems improvements and audit spot checks have also been intensified at tolling and vehicle licensing centres and this has culminated in greater assurance and transparency in transaction handling. After getting into office, the new executive instituted disciplinary and court actions against corrupt activities. To date, Zinara has dismissed 17 employees on corruption related charges, 12 employees resigned voluntarily and four have been separately convicted.

In December 2020, the Zinara executive unearthed a fuel levies scam where some staff in the Cash Office substituted USD collections with RTGS resulting in a prejudice of over USD$ 48 000 and the 4 employees are currently out on bail with 3 having resigned to avoid internal disciplinary hearings. Apparently, the same staff in the cash office had resisted to be transferred citing alleged victimisation.

Organogram

One of the most reported legacy issues is that Zinara had a top heavy management chewing bulk of the collections by the Road Fund Administrator. It is pleasing to note that the institution now has a lean top organogram with only three Directors and 10 Managers. This small team of Executives and management oversees a headcount of 670 employees and five revenue streams which includes Tolling, Vehicle Licensing, Abnormal load fees, Overload Fees and Transit fees spread across Head Office, 22 tolling points, 12 Provincial Vehicle Licensing Offices and National Limpopo Bridge Offices in Beitbridge. The team is also in charge of a subsidiary called Infralink which is an investment vehicle between Zinara and Intertoll for the management of tollgates along the Plumtree-Mutare Highway. That subsidiary has a staff compliment of 303 employees. The old Zinara organogram was last reviewed in 2013 and had thus became obsolete.

Proserve Human Resources Consultants was engaged by Zinara in 2020 to develop a functional organisational structure that is efficient and effective in line with ZINARA's legislative mandate, coming up with an appropriate job grading structure supported by a professional salary structure following job evaluation, develop a supporting Human Resources policy document and Employment Code of Conduct reflecting standard best practices. The structure so adopted reflected regional road funds and international benchmarks in enabling Zinara to fully implement its legislative mandate. It is an internationally recognized best practice principle that an organisation structure is a statement of strategic intent and exists to support the business strategy.

In pursuing these strategic imperatives and as derived from its mandate, Zinara identified the following as the key business processes: Technical Services, Tolling Operations and Vehicle Licensing Services.

The undertaking of these Key Business Processes is supported by the following support services: Finance, Human Resources and Administration, ICT, Internal Audit, Corporate Secretarial and legal services, Procurement, Public Relations and Marketing, Risk and Loss Control. The new structure consolidated all Revenue streams under the revenue operations department headed by a Director Revenue Operations (pending ministerial approval) for greater efficiency in collections.

The structure created the Procurement Management Unit (PMU) as required by statute and the Risk and Loss Control Department to bring greater assurance in ZINARA's operations as a road fund. Zinara chief executive officer Mr Nkosinathi Ncube said the new structure recommended by Proserve Human Resources Consultants was in line with best practices and reflected the current organisational size of Zinara.

"We are a results-oriented team and the current structure we have is lean, but its scope of work is broad," said Mr Ncube.

"With only three directors and 10 managers we are superintending a total head count of close to a thousand employees and several revenue streams across the en􏰁re country. As an organisation and a new team, we believe in results-based management to fully realise our mandate as a road fund administrator."

Administration costs to revenue ratio
The current administration costs to revenue ratio of 2.5 percent was gazetted at a time Zinara's headcount was less than 50, with collections being done by Zimra on behalf of Zinara and with National Limpopo Bridge being a standalone alone entity.

With Zinara now in charge of collections and with the the opening of five additional new tollgates and the handover of New Limpopo Bridge at the end of the concessionary period, headcount has since increased from 50 to 670. It is against this background that the December 2020 Annual General Meeting recommended that the Administration costs to revenue ra􏰁o be amended to 10 percent and moves are afoot to amend the applicable statute.

It should be noted that the Corporate Governance Act pegs the ratio of expenses to revenue at 30 percent hence the need for an alignment of the statutes. Notwithstanding, Zinara has done its best to operate efficiently with the Administration Costs to Revenue ratio hovering slightly above the 2,5 percent to 3 and 4 percent on average. It is prudent to note that payroll costs only account for a small percentage of the Administration Costs which also includes system vendor commissions.

Source - the independent

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