Project Governance – the Missing Link


Project Governance – The Missing Link, inter alia, in the Fight against Corruption in Public and Private Sector Projects

By Eng. Tororiro Isaac Chaza, B.Sc. Eng., MBA, PMP

Harare, Zimbabwe


  1. Abstract

A survey of media reports on project success/failure in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) shows a high level of project related corruption and attendant project failure as evidenced by poor or non-delivery of scope, accompanied by massive cost and/or schedule overruns, resulting in a dire and perverse cost to the citizens. Furthermore SSA countries are recipients of International Development (ID) funded projects, mostly mammoth in nature, which have also experienced the same corruption and resultant failed projects. Current corporate governance legislation, policies and guidelines are focused on fighting corruption at procurement stage, and ensuring transparency at the corporate reporting stage. However these are inert on project governance. This paper posits that project management (PM) practice by its real-time, unifying and applicatory nature is, inter alia, the missing link in the fight against corruption and hence, in the delivery of ‘successful projects.’ This paper advocates that project governance should be embraced as a strong constituent of corporate governance such that there is need to strengthen the public and private sector corporate governance by facilitating and refining the corporate boards’ understanding of project management. Corporate governance of both private and public sector enterprises is addressed. Conceding that the main challenge in instilling a PM culture and related governance, is the colossal skills gap, it is proposed that there is a pressing need to train and up-skill both public officers and private sector personnel in PM knowledge and practice.

For the purposes of this paper project management is construed to include the related portfolio and program management.

Key words: project governance, corporate governance, public sector, corruption, project success, risk management, accidental project manager.

  1. Introduction

Project Management has morphed and matured from being perceived as highly technical to become a core leadership skill which encompasses, among other things, projection, construal and reification of strategy, specifically converging on innovation and change management. In modern markets, companies are being pressured to innovate or fade. Is there anybody out there still using a Polaroid ‘instant’ camera? What happened to Kodak’s dominance in the photographic film business and Nokia’s dominance in the smartphone market? In developed markets financiers will not grant project financing to organizations who do not procure services of certified project managers (PMP, IPMA, PRINCE 2, Agile, etc). Recent studies have shown high correlation between levels of innovation and the number of certified PMs within a country. Naughton and Kavanagh, (2009) stated, “A nation’s ability to build and sustain its innovation capacity depends on developing and maintaining project management skills at world-class levels, on high-quality, education (not just painting by numbers) and on the best professional accreditation in the discipline.” The KPMG Project Management Survey 2010 butresses this point:-

“Our data shows that organisations that are more successful in their projects:-

  • have high level project management capabilities
  • have projects that are aligned with corporate strategy
  • deliver projects within a programme of work or a portfolio co-ordinate projects through a Programme or Project Management Office (PMO)
  • provide for effective sponsorship which delivers clear direction for the project and escalates problems when necessary
  • initiate projects with robust business cases
  • actively manage risks
  • practice regular reporting, with accurate and up to date information
  • report variations and implement recovery actions
  • ensure that their project managers use a methodology.”

PriceWaterhouseCoopers (PwC) reports bribery and corruption as a major barrier in economic growth in SSA:-

“At a regional level, over-regulation and cyber threats are of most concern to CEOs in North America. Asia Pacific CEOs are the most anxious about affordable capital, consumer behaviours, new market entrants and the speed of technological change. And CEOs in Africa are by far the most worried of the lot, across a range of threats as diverse as social instability, inadequate infrastructure, access to key skills, energy costs, and bribery and corruption – all significant barriers to the continent in realising its growth potential.”.

The questions posed to both the public and private sector entities are:-


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About the Author

Eng. Tororiro Isaac Chaza

Harare, Zimbabwe



. 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 telecommunications, banking and construction projects of varying complexities. Tororiro is now a full-time project management trainer and consultant.

Tororiro Chaza can be contacted at [email protected]

To view other works by this author, visit his author showcase page in the PM World Library at http://pmworldlibrary.net/authors/tororiro-isaac-chaza/