Zesa Holdings executive chairman Sydney Gata has unleashed a bloodbath, axing the majority of the utility’s leadership team across the company’s strategic units in what observers said marks a major step towards the rebundling of the units.
The exercise has also seen some managers suspended while others are demoted as Gata makes the first move since his return to the power utility as executive chairman last year.
The massive layoffs exercise across the company’s top management layer, executed last Thursday is part of efforts by Gata to clean up Zesa’s governance structures compromised in the last few years.
Most executives were fired or suspended or demoted over accusations of alarming financial misdeeds with all fingered in either shoddy deals
or ineptitude or following some recommendations of a forensic audit into the operations Zesa and its subsidiaries, conducted by PriceWaterhouseCoopers (PwC) which called for disciplinary action against managers suspected to have milked the power utility millions of dollars
and misuse of resources such as fuel.
The shakeup comes at a time when the power utility has been under severe scrutiny from the government, the sole shareholder in the company.
The company has been reeling under heavy losses for years.
The PwC audit unearthed startling accounts of corruption, multi-million dollar tender irregularities, the collapse of governance systems among other transgressions.
It was a bombshell development.
It is understood that prior to officially announcing the changes on Friday at Zesa Training Centre, Gata dispatched the dismissal, suspension and demotion letters to those affected on Thursday.
He then called for a staff meeting at the company’s training centre where he officially announced the dismissals, suspensions and demotions.
Insiders said there is anxiety at the power utility as workers feel Gata
is not done yet.
Gata’s focus since his appointment has been to re-organise the top
leadership structure of the power utility to remove redundancies,
transform Zesa into a vibrant entity by amalgamating Zesa’s four units—ZETDC, Zimbabwe Power Company (ZPC), Powertel and ZENT—into one integrated company in a bid to cut costs, weed out corruption and bad
management and boost power generation and reduce inefficiencies at the State-owned entity.
Business Times can reveal that those ushered out of the door included ZPC finance director Hurbert Chiwara, general manager projects ZPC Washington Mareya, Joshua Chirikutsi, ZPC operations director, who once acted as managing director.
Zuwaracho Robson Chikuri, who was ZPC acting managing director was demoted and moved to Bulawayo Power Station, where he is now the plant manager.
Kenneth Maswera was appointed acting ZPC managing director.
It emerged Tom Tshuma, who was Bulawayo power plant manager, has been moved to Hwange Power Station as general manager.
ZPC project manager Cleophas Fambi was fired.
ZENT operations director Philemon Dhafana and finance director, Farai Tichawangana, were also said to have been fired.
Head risk and audit at Zesa Holdings, Osbon Matunja was suspended pending disciplinary hearing. A registered public accountant Admire Marandu is acting head of risk and audit.
Group spokesperson Fullard Gwasira, who himself has been accused of abusing company fuel estimated to be more than 2 000 litres, according to wellplaced sources at Zesa, was also suspended.
He now faces disciplinary hearing.
In an internal memo to the loss control manager in February this year, seen by Business Times, Gwasira offered to reimburse the company.
Head of corporate affairs, Rufaro Pasipanodya was also suspended.
ZPC’s senior human resources manager, Florence Chibasa, has been appointed Zesa Holdings acting head of corporate affairs.
ZETDC Southern region general manager, King Dube, was fired last week after he was fingered in a scam that facilitated illegal power connections to mines, individual properties and businesses in the region.
This, according to well-placed sources at ZESA, resulted in the power utility losing more than US$2m in the past few months.
The scam came to light after a whistle blower alerted ZESA that Dube and his management team two years ago authorised the installation of a transmission line to a Chinese owned mine said to be in Mhondoro, which has not been paying anything to Zesa as it is not on the ZETDC billing system.
According to ZETDC distribution network chart, Mhondoro is not part of the
Southern Region and the job was outside Dube’s area of jurisdiction.
The mine was supposed to be connected by ZETDC Northern Region.
Apart from Dube, Business Times understood that eight other ZETDC Southern region officials were suspended.
These include the region’s development manager, Samuel Sabao, commercial manager Dellia Sibanda, Kwekwe district manager Raphel Rupere, Kwekwe district engineer Martin Kanyepe, and Casper Nepera, who is the region’s chief risk control officer was also suspended.
The scandal could be just a tip of the ice berg as Zesa could be losing millions of dollars through corruption and underhand dealings.
Former managing director Julian Chinembiri and finance director
Thoko Dhliwayo were sacked last week.
Ralph Katsande, who was ZETDC acting managing director following Chinembiri’s suspension last year, was demoted and is now acting general manager southern region.
Lovemore Chinaka, who was general manager ZETDC Western region, is now the new acting ZETDC managing director.
ZETDC revenue assurance manager, Wilfred Shereni was reinstated following his suspension last year.
ZETDC transmission director, Howard Choga who was suspended was cleared of any wrongdoing and reinstated.
“It was a bloodbath,” one affected manager who asked not to be named
told Business Times.
Efforts to get an official comment on the massive shakeup from Gata
were futile as his mobile phone continuously went unanswered.
Written questions were sent to him, but were not responded to by the
time of going to print.