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NHIMBE welcomes new cabinet, expresses concern over delayed filling of National Arts Council positions

by Stephen Jakes
19 Sep 2018 at 08:53hrs | Views
Nhimbe Trust, an advocate for a vibrant and sustainable Zimbabwean creative sector that is sufficiently regulated and well resourced, has welcome the appointment of Minister Kirsty Coventry.

"Having issued a press statement on 20 April 2018 we eagerly anticipate the Honorable Coventry's urgent attention to our concern with the surreptitious and irregular filling of the vacancy of Director, National Arts Council of Zimbabwe (the Council). On 20 April 2018 we raised concern about the delay in filling the vacancy left by the resignation of Mr Elvas Mari as Director and urged the Council to be open and transparent about the appointment of an Acting Director. Immediately after, on 16 May 2018 Mr Nicholas Moyo who was in the secretariat, was introduced as Acting Director at the launch of the UNESCO Global Report ‘Reshaping Cultural Policies' without any evidence of due process. We publicly queried the apparent irregular appointment and reiterated the need for a transparent and regular process of filling the vacancy," said the trust.

"We were thus surprised by the Council's press release of 1 August 2018 announcing the appointment of the same Mr Nicholas Moyo as Director with effect from 1 August 2018 claiming that this was "after completion of due process in terms of the Public Entities Corporate Governance Act [CAP 10:31] National Arts Council of Zimbabwe Act [Chapter 25:07]. The selection process, which was competitive, started in May 2018 and was concluded recently".

The trust said as keen observers of the issue's resolution we saw no such open and regular process and can only conclude that the recruitment was conducted surreptitiously, irregularly and contrary to the tenets of good governance enshrined in Section 3(2)(g) of the Constitution.

"We can do no better than first reiterate our said statement of 24 April thus:"…. We are concerned by the improper tradition that has been set of simply elevating officials in the National Arts Council without regard to sound human resources practices of seeking the best qualified for the job. The attitude of a broad range of creative civil society, which we belong to holds the view that the staff complement of the Council does not possess the ideal skills and competences required by the Director's post."

The trust said they have long advocated for the alignment of the National Arts Council Act to the Constitution, whose need is now more urgent.

"We therefore expect that the Council will, in filling the Director's vacancy, observe and uphold the requirements of good governance stipulated in sections 3(1)(h), 9 of the Constitution and particularly section 194(1)(k) which provides that "employment practices must be based on merit, ability, objectivity, fairness …" said the trust.

"We further require and expect the Council to: Implement the provisions of clause 17 of the Public Entities Corporate Governance Bill that was passed by Parliament which require the post of Director to be filled by public advertisement, interviews, ministerial approval and Presidential consent of the result, as well as clauses 23 and 24 that require the new Director to conclude a performance contract and strategic plans with the Board. These provisions would enhance good governance and supersede the archaic National Arts Council Act's process which is via the Civil Service Commission and the Finance Ministry's approval.
 Take full advantage of this opportunity to review and rationalize the Council's staff establishment through an audit that results in ending overstaffing by underqualified personnel while saving its scarce resources."

The trust said its expectation as stakeholders is that the Minister and the Council fully seize the opportunity presented of a new dispensation to embrace tenets of good corporate governance through the recruitment of a new Director in a new way.

"This will allow the Council to attune to focus on strategy and value creation which would shed the present image of the Council of seeming inexperience, complacency, inefficiency and ineffectiveness. We will continue to demand good corporate governance, alignment of practices to the Constitution and transparency and expect to see this exhibited in the filling of the vacancy of Director," said the trust.

"We secondly therefore request the Honorable Minister to furnish us, and publicize within two weeks: the process by which the vacancy of Director was filled.  If it was not filled according to law, the steps she will take to revoke the appointment and commence proper proceedings."

Source - By024News