Project Management Profession

A Critical Competency for Delivery of Infrastructure Projects in Zimbabwe



Engineer Tororiro Isaac Chaza, PMP®

Harare, Zimbabwe



As Zimbabwe’s political dispensation has entered into a new season, there is a great expectation of economic growth spearheaded by massive investments in infrastructure development. In the past one and a half decades, Zimbabwe’s economy has gone through systematic degradation which saw it plunge from being the ‘bread basket of Africa’ to be the ‘basket case of Africa.’ Anticipating that the newly appointed President, His Excellency E. D. Munangagwa, will be development oriented and that his cabinet will be driven by the desire to perform, there is need for the Government of Zimbabwe to create an enabling environment for the successful execution of infrastructure projects. The President’s sentiments are reflected in the recent Budget Speech by the Honourable P. A. Chinamasa, Minister of Finance and Economic Development, who spelt out the need to instill proper project governance and project management standards within the Public Sector projects. Furthermore the strategy for economic revival in Zimbabwe is spelt out in the Zim Asset policy document (Government of Zimbabwe, 2013). However, the current Zim Asset policy expires in 2018 and the Minister of Finance has alluded to the Zim Asset second Phase from 2019-2023. The current Zim Asset document itself is sound but the execution of it is found wanting due to dearth of financial resources.

The envisaged recovery will be spearheaded by massive infrastructure projects carried out at Public Sector level, Private Sector level, and collaborative Public-Private-Partnership level. The availability and capability of the subject matter experts to carry out the infrastructure projects is essential. However, this is not adequate for successful implementation of projects. Subject matter experts are often given the task of managing complex projects. This they attempt to do without the appropriate project management training and therefore lack the rigors of the discipline. The subject matter experts are deemed ‘accidental’ project managers within the project management profession (Darrell, V. 2010). The risk of using an ‘accidental’ project manager in a high cost capital project results in a litany of problems which may deem the project a failure, or a highly stressed project. The litany of problems can range from, among others, scope creep, schedule overruns, cost overruns, quality challenges, unrealized benefits and in extreme cases loss of multiple lives.

In order to institute proper project management practices in the implementation of infrastructure projects, this paper puts forward the critical need for developing the project management profession to buttress the competencies of subject matter experts within the public sector. There is need to increase the number of trained/skilled/certified project management professionals within the public sector and also within the contracted private sector service providers. Furthermore this paper advocates for the implementation of project governance framework to enable the appropriate oversight of public sector projects. This is in line with the budget enunciation of the Minister of Finance and Economic Development.

Key words: project governance, project management, talent development

  1. Introduction

In order to appreciate the magnitude of the infrastructure development work anticipated in Zimbabwe, it is best to use as proxy, the current policy formulated by the Zimbabwe Government under the former President, R. G. Mugabe, the ZIM ASSET programme (Government of Zimbabwe 2013). The Zim Asset intentions are to role out a number of key infrastructure development project, chief of which are, inter alia:-

  • Water and Sanitation Infrastructure
  • Public amenities,
  • Information and Communication Technology,
  • Energy and power supplies,
  • Transport (road, rail, marine and air).

A number of implementation strategies are put forward. Chief among the strategies is the Integrated Results Based Management (IRBM) system, which is based on generating a number of key performance metrics and monitoring and reporting on their progress. The overseeing and coordinating organization is given as the Office of the President and Cabinet (OPC). The ZIM ASSET strategies are moot on the need for proper project management practice and governance. Reliance on processes and methodology such as IRBM without the requisite project management skills and project governance can result in a high rate of project failure.


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About the Author

Eng. Tororiro Isaac Chaza

Harare, Zimbabwe



Eng. Tororiro Chaza is one of the handful of PMPs in Zimbabwe. He has over 30 years of experience on projects in the Telecommunications industry, having worked for General Electric Company in the UK, then for the Zimbabwe Posts and Telecommunications Company, and top Cellular Company Econet Wireless. Tororiro was the General Manager of the Project Management Office (PMO) at Econet Zimbabwe for the last 5 years in charge of managing a large portfolio of banking, construction and telecommunications projects of varying complexities. Tororiro is now a full-time project management trainer and consultant.  He is also Vice President for Professional Development and Education – PMI Zimbabwe Chapter and Vice Chairman of the ZICT, the Zimbabwe Institution of Engineers, ICT Division.

Tororiro Chaza can be contacted at [email protected] 

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