The Zimbabwe National Roads Administration (Zinara) has bizarrely appointed its company secretary Mathlene Mujokoro as acting chief executive officer following the suspension of Nancy Masiyiwa.
Masiyiwa, who consistently clashed with Transport Minister Jorum Gumbo who is accused of protecting some managers at the parastatal implicated in fraud and corruption charges, was suspended in June on charges of “abuse of authority”.
Labour experts yesterday said it was very “peculiar” for the Wilfred Ramwi-led board to appoint Mujokoro ahead of finance director and other senior managers who traditionally act when the incumbent is away.
“In normal cases, and in professionally run organisations, the finance director or chief operations officer usually takes over when the chief executive is on leave, suspended or fired, since they are familiar with day to day operations of companies.
“In the Zinara case it is very strange that the board – with the blessing of the Minister – found it prudent to engage the company secretary to oversee operations. This obviously means that the board – and the minister by extension – have something to hide,” said a labour expert who preferred anonymity.
Zinara board chairman Ramwi, who wrote the suspension letter accusing Masiyiwa of gross incompetence, refused to shed light on the matter.
“I cannot comment on that,” he said when contacted for comment yesterday and abruptly terminated the call. Mujokoro was also not immediately available for comment.
According to the suspension letter signed by Ramwi and seen by this publication, Masiyiwa is accused of “wilful abuse of authority and victimisation of officers of the authority based on factors not driven from recorded detail or their conduct and performance.”
“The facts giving rise to the charges are the following: you suspended and instituted disciplinary proceedings against Simon Taranhike and Precious Murove being senior employees in circumstances where there was no reasonable cause for you to do so and you were aware that they acted in the interest of the authority and national interest,” read part of the letter.
Ramwi said Masiyiwa, who was initially suspended with benefits before they were later cancelled, sought the dismissal of the said employees without the authority of the Minister for Transport.
“You did not fully and punctually report to the board the criminal proceedings against the employees of the authority in which you were a witness,” he said in the letter.
Masiyiwa’s problems started last year when she suspended Taranhike, Murove, Peter Botere and Shadreck Matengabadza and instituted disciplinary hearings against the four.
The move, however, backfired when the board, which was allegedly arm-twisted by Gumbo, pushed for the charges against the senior executives to be dropped arguing that all dismissals of directors needed ministerial approval. The charges were later withdrawn and the quartet returned to work.