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The Lesson taught by Kambas

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Written by Luís Nhachote
Translated by Francisco Chuquela

With the arrival, in a temporary regime, of the IMF delegation, in addition to the aspects of so-called hidden debt, other issues are on the table, such as the stage of the enterprises owned or controlled by the State.

This is not a new theme, but rather recurrent. In the past, the country has advanced with a broad process of privatization, which for some sectors of society “did not bring great benefits”, expanding the number of unemployed people, the transformation of productive units into warehouses of calamities, food, construction materials and others, apart from not contribute to increase the collection of revenues through taxes. Others consider that it is inevitable, since “the State does not know how to manage business, and this is not its” function “, and that it must be delegated to private sector or in a private public regime.

This is a debate that often goes beyond mere ideologies or schools of economic thought, and in these “new times” it appears more often in virtual “public spaces”, where the status quo is increasingly questioned, and the finger indicates the “public ones”, cataloging them with seals of bad management, poor quality, economically weak, and other low-value adjectives for institutions, managers and workers.

This evidence is not exclusive to the Mozambican “public ones”, and in other places the adverse feelings led to the adoption of models of “sanitation” of the “public ones”, as was the case of the Angolan airline TAAG, which in order to solve a chronic problem in the management of air services in the country endorsed the company to Emirates, and it was led with an iron pulse by a team named and dominated by the new “management partner.”

This measure, which was seen as an act of courage, was widely praised in several quarters of our society, beginning to avenge the idea that Mozambique should follow the same path, and also find a partner for LAM, which faces great difficulties of several Levels.

The Strategic Partnership Agreement for the Development of TAAG – Angola Airlines and Emirates was signed in Dubai on September 30, 2014, which gave birth to a Management Agreement of TAAG by Emirates. The top management of TAAG was primarily driven by a team of executives of Emirates.

At the time, it was intended with the agreement to provide TAAG with professional management at an international level, freeing it from problems of effectiveness and efficiency that had persisted for many years

Following the drafting of a new Business Plan for TAAG, the day-to-day management of TAAG was ensured by an executive committee composed of four executive directors nominated by Emirates, including its chairman, and an Angolan executive who acted as vice president

From dream to real world

At the time of “lean cows” in Angola, Emirates took the decision to unilaterally terminate the management contract that had signed with the Angolan government, abandoning the management in less than 24 hours after the announcement, creating uncertainties and an apparent panic in the Angolan Government and society.

Following the announcement of the unilateral termination of the management agreement with TAAG, by Emirates, was named directly by the Angolan President, a management commission, coordinated by Joaquim Teixeira da Cunha, who was the vice-chairman in the previous management, with assistant coordinators Rui Paulo de Andrade Telles Carreira and Wiliam Rex Boutler, also integrating Eric ZinuKameni, Nuno Ricardo da Silva Oliveira Pereira, Patrick J. Rotsaert and Vilupa Mathanga Gunatileka.

Meanwhile, in a statement, the Transport Ministry laments the “abrupt and less flexible way in which Emirates has put an end to the strategic partnership that had been delivering good results, and which would certainly yield even better results beyond the cyclical difficulties.”

The Angolan Ministry of Transport also stated that “we have taken note of Emirates’ unilateral decision and, of course, we have sought immediate solutions for the management of TAAG.” It emphasized that, on 9th July, Emirates informed in a letter to the Transport Minister that it would reduce its services from Dubai to Luanda to three weekly flights and terminated its partnership with TAAG. The unilateral decision by Emirates resulted in the immediate withdrawal of Angola of administers that had appointed for the Board of Administration.

The Ministry of Transport said in its statement that the country is just over a month from the elections, which will result in a new legislature and a new Executive. Therefore, the Government has decided not to appoint a new Board of Administration for TAAG.

And now… which is the way?

With constant criticism, damages accumulated with its very worn image, LAM seemed to have seen in the Angolan model its lifeline, in order to have a greater and better operability and safety, better service and more comfort for its passengers, more rigor in all processes of control, with less costs and with greater profitability.

And now what is the viable and less costly solution for Mozambique, not only in financial terms, but in other very relevant variants in our local context, of a Country with 2,500 Km of coast, and with a deficient network of roads to connect the country from north to south? The Angolan model confirms that there is no infallible solution, and that the solution to one case is not necessarily a solution to all thesimilar cases.

President Nyusi on his visit to the Ministry of Transport and Communications launched the challenge and said: “Let’s break the myth that we are the flag company. Flag of what? We can negotiate and continue to be a company with quality, without necessarily being us doing something we do not dominate.” The President is more than right. We need professional management even if it is not done by Mozambicans. After all, being a flag company means no more than the exercise of sovereignty. And the exercise of sovereignty does not prevent a solution that brings non-Mozambican managers.

With the lesson from the “Kambas” brothers, it is important to ask why do we want a flag company? Do we want LAM as a symbol of sovereignty or a lucrative business? Or both?

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