Crony­ism hurts eco­nomic devel­op­ment

The Sunday Mail (Zimbabwe) - - ANALYSIS - Tau­rai Changwa Tau­rai Changwa is a mem­ber of the In­sti­tute of Char­tered Ac­coun­tants of Zim­babwe and an es­tate ad­min­is­tra­tor with vast ex­pe­ri­ence in tax, ac­count­ing, au­dit and cor­po­rate gov­er­nance is­sues. He is a di­rec­tor of Umar & Tach Ad­vi­sory and writes

THERE was star­tling news re­cently when it was re­ported that 75 per­cent of the em­ploy­ees at Chi­tung­wiza Town Coun­cil did not have the min­i­mum five O-Level sub­jects con­sid­ered a pre-req­ui­site for em­ploy­ment.

Should this be true, it can then be ar­gued that there is a pos­i­tive cor­re­la­tion be­tween the level of com­pe­ten­cies in some lo­cal au­thor­i­ties and sham­bolic ser­vice de­liv­ery.

One shud­ders to think if the same sit­u­a­tion pre­vails at other pub­lic in­sti­tu­tions.

But how much of this prac­tice is neg­a­tively af­fect­ing the lo­cal econ­omy? Ob­vi­ously, the value of ed­u­ca­tion can­not be un­der­stated.

Thought lead­er­ship and a com­pre­hen­sive skills set – prefer­ably pro­fes­sion­ally horned – is cru­cial in shap­ing the or­gan­i­sa­tional ef­fi­ciency of com­pa­nies and in­sti­tu­tions.

As the say­ing al­ways goes, “read­ers are lead­ers”, which is al­ways true. Suc­cess­ful lead­ers often learn ef­fec­tive lead­er­ship tech­niques by read­ing the works of oth­ers.

An un­pro­fes­sional work­force is a recipe for dis­as­ter as it can­not pos­si­bly be ex­pected to be con­ver­sant with ei­ther busi­ness pro­cesses or the pro­fes­sional ap­ti­tude to dis­charge their du­ties.

In some in­stances, this might be detri­men­tal to the or­gan­i­sa­tion.

For ex­am­ple, a worker who is man­dated to deal with a com­pany’s tax is­sues should have a ba­sic un­der­stand­ing of what the law says.

In tax, there is no room for om­mis­sions for this is likely to at­tract hefty penal­ties from the Zim­babwe Rev­enue Author­ity.

Nepo­tism and crony­ism have un­de­ni­ably been some of the chal­lenges fac­ing the ef­fec­tive ad­min­is­tra­tion of both pub­lic and pri­vate en­ti­ties, es­pe­cially in mar­kets where un­em­ploy­ment is high.

Where high com­pe­ti­tion for a few jobs is sup­posed to en­hance mer­i­toc­racy, it un­for­tu­nately often leads to nepo­tism.

And this is one of the rea­sons why some com­pa­nies go bust.

Work­ers that are em­ployed in such a man­ner often have a sense of en­ti­tle­ment and are dif­fi­cult to rein in.

Ob­vi­ously the per­for­mance of those so em­ployed can­not be eval­u­ated fairly, which has neg­a­tive con­no­ta­tions for the busi­ness.

So, no mat­ter how well-in­ten­tioned one is in hir­ing their friends or rel­a­tives in their or­gan­isaton, it’s a slip­pery slope one is about to traverse, es­pe­cially if they per­ceive this act as just the first step in a long road of favouritism.

When pre-ex­ist­ing per­sonal re­la­tion­ships ap­pear to take prece­dence over ac­tual qual­i­fi­ca­tions in the hir­ing process, the ad­verse ef­fects on morale are likely to be felt by all par­ties in­volved.

Put sim­ply, or­gan­i­sa­tions should sim­ply hire peo­ple on merit.

Nepo­tism is de­fined as a form of dis­crim­i­na­tion in which fam­ily mem­bers or friends are hired for rea­sons that do not nec­es­sar­ily have any­thing to do with their ex­pe­ri­ence, knowl­edge or skills.

It nor­mally oc­curs more fre­quently in fam­ily-owned busi­nesses, but sadly it has now be­come per­va­sive in most de­vel­op­ing coun­tries, Zim­babwe in­cluded.

If one does not have the ba­sic knowl­edge or skills for the job, they are very high chances that the in­di­vid­ual will not do well on that par­tic­u­lar task.

Some busi­ness own­ers might pride them­selves that they are do­ing well in busi­ness with­out the nec­es­sary ed­u­ca­tion, but this is not al­ways the case.

There are those who are al­ways quick to point to Bill Gates and Mark Zucker­berg as col­lege dropouts who have been very suc­cess­ful in their pur­suits.

But one needs to ap­pre­ci­ate their back­ground.

What is clear in their case is that their pas­sion over­took their stud­ies. They had the foun­da­tional back­ground to launch their ca­reers.

The Bible – con­sid­ered by many the wis­est book ever writ­ten – says in Proverbs 29:11, “Fools give full vent to their rage, but the wise bring calm in the end.”

While ed­u­cated peo­ple may be will­ing to take the nar­row road to suc­cess, un­e­d­u­cated peo­ple do not hes­i­tate to do short cuts.

Quite clearly, ed­u­ca­tion is an im­por­tant as­set for run­ning a busi­ness.

Stud­ies that have been done in the United States of Amer­ica prove that Wash­ingston could not have been as glob­ally com­pet­i­tive as it is now if its col­leges weren’t able to con­tinue pro­vid­ing a steady stream of well-ed­u­cated, self dis­ci­plined and mo­ti­vated young peo­ple. The same can be said for Zim­babwe. Stu­dents who fin­ish high school with min­i­mal read­ing, math and com­mu­ni­ca­tions skills will not be able to work ef­fec­tively as part of a team, op­er­ate so­phis­ti­cated ma­chin­ery, solve prob­lems, or take ini­tia­tive on be­half of their cus­tomers.

In short, they will not be able to do to­day’s jobs well, let alone to­mor­row’s tasks.

Ed­u­ca­tion is, there­fore, an in­te­gral part of how com­pa­nies are run.

Hu­man re­source de­part­ments should em­ploy com­pe­tent peo­ple. An un­e­d­u­cated so­ci­ety can cre­ate dis­as­ter for our coun­try.

Mark Zucker­berg only dropped out of col­lege af­ter his pas­sion over­took his stud­ies

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