HARARE – From this Sunday, the Daily News on Sunday will be publishing this new column that celebrates women in top positions.
In our ground-breaking instalment, deputy Business Editor Ndakaziva Majaka caught up with the National Social Security Authority (Nssa) general manager, Elizabeth Chitiga.
Before she assumed the Nssa post in October 2016, the ex-Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe economist chaired a number of boards in the public and private sectors.
Below are some extracts from the interview.
Q: It has almost been a year since you promised me this sit-down; you are a very slippery woman. How have you been?
A: It has been a long ride, I had not forgotten about our sit-down, but work has been very hectic. Can you believe I was in Johannesburg just this morning? It is now after 19:00hrs and we are here chatting. Most of my typical days end this late, but I would not have it any other way, it has been a fulfilling journey.
Q: What is the one thing that people do not know about you?
A: I would say most people are not familiar with my funny side. There is a part of me that is a lot of fun. I am funny, but because I am usually engaged with work-related things, most people then do not know this side of me. Apart from this, I enjoy family time and spending time with my daughter or just catching up with her. Family values rank very highly for me as an individual.
Q: When it comes to your job, what would you say is the most challenging thing you deal with on a daily basis?
A: Having to head an organisation the size of Nssa, with its vast portfolio is quite challenging because it is a results-oriented job, and the team constantly has to deliver, so that has its own pressures.
Q: As one of the country’s most illustrious business leaders, where were you when Black Friday happened in 1997?
A: I was heading the Minerals Marketing Corporation (of Zimbabwe) at the time. It was a sad event and moment for me individually and for our country. As unexpected as it was, no one was prepared for it and to date, I view it as one of the saddest economic events to ever happen to the country. If like me, you had the chance to see this economy on a rebound, you will understand the emotional and sentimental sadness around that event.
Q: It is interesting that you mention that Black Friday was a tipping point for our economy; do you feel the country will recover from the present economic headwinds?
A: This is not the worst that we have seen, so I believe the economy will recover. So trust me, we Zimbabweans are going to find a way of coming out of this, and if anything, I feel that this nation is poised for such a turnaround and growth. The only problem I see is that we will not be ready for it when it comes. We will fail to embrace it, that is how huge it is going to be.
Q: In your professional and personal life, what is the one investment you did not commit to, that you wish you had?
A: I should have invested in Alibaba (a Chinese e-commerce company that provides consumer-to-consumer, business-to-consumer and business-to-business sales services via web portals. It was founded in 1999 when Jack Ma founded the website Alibaba.com, a business-to-business portal to connect Chinese manufacturers with overseas buyers). I had a chance to invest and I did not. I think I was a little slow, just slightly too late. I actually told my daughter that she should lend me so much money, so that I could invest and then it slipped and I did not follow through with it.
Q: If it all ended today, what is the one investment that you made that you are proud of?
A: My daughter, sending her to school and spending as much time as I could, teaching her about life and teaching her most importantly, about the Lord.
Q: How many children do you have?
A: I just have one daughter.
Q: Do you have any philosophies that you live by?
A: One of my biggest values is hard work at the same time having fun, so work hard, play hard. Excellence is also right up there, integrity as well. This is something the people in my generation need to impart in our youths.
Q: Any hobbies?
A: Hobbies, if you had asked me before Nssa, I would have probably said golf. But these days, I am kept very busy and have not teed off in a while.
Q: I imagine you have a lot of educational qualifications, but off the top of your head, which are some of the most notable ones?
A: Well, that is very boring. But I have an MBA in Finance and General Management from Indiana University in the States then I also attended Havard School of Business for my Advanced Management qualification. The rest is really learning stuff as I go.
Q: What is your favourite travel destination in the country?
A: That would have to be the Vumba, the Eastern Highlands. It really is one of my favourite places. I love the Victoria Falls as well, but the Vumba wins any day… That is where I head for a quite weekend.
Q: Which church do you go to?
A: United Methodist Church
Q: What scent do you wear?
A: I switch around a little bit, today I am wearing Chloe. But I switch around a little bit. However, I can say scents lift my spirit and I wear them according to the way I feel.