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NRZ: Mnangagwa's govt in catch-22 situation

by Staff reporter
28 Jun 2020 at 08:02hrs | Views
GOVERNMENT has instructed the National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ) board to fire the parastatal's management for poor performance and gross mismanagement of the parastatals' affairs, Southern Eye on Sunday can exclusively reveal.

The Lewis Mukwada-led management is accused of, among other things, failing to come up with turnaround strategies that would take the company out of the doldrums.

On Thursday, Transport and Infrastructure Development minister Joel Biggie Matiza met with the NRZ board at a Bulawayo hotel in what insiders said was a no-holds-barred meeting.

NRZ chairman Martin Dinha was tight-lipped on the matter.

"I cannot say much at the moment. We are seized with the matter. That is all I can say," said Dinha when contacted for comment.

But the sources confirmed Matiza read the riot act to the board, emphasising the need for changes to take place in the management structure of the parastatal as soon as possible.

"We met with the minister on Thursday and the instruction that he gave, which was even clear to the incumbent management, is that government has passed its vote of no confidence on the current NRZ management," a source said.

"The minister has made it clear that there is need to restructure the company's management as soon as possible. It is his belief, as the minister, that the NRZ is in its sorry state owing to poor management, whose head is Mukwada."

Mukwada, a former director of technical services at the railway company, assumed the reins as general manager on an interim basis following the death of Mike Karakadzai in a car accident.

The NRZ board eventually elevated him to a full-time position in 2016.

"There is nothing new that Mukwada's management has done to show that they are in existence. They have failed, as management, to come up with interventions to save the company from further collapse," the source added.

Information in the possession of this publication shows that government was in a catch-22 as to how the company could be saved from further collapse.

The sources said Matiza had grown tired of coming to the defence of the NRZ board and management when questioned by cabinet on the state of affairs at the railway company.

Government, the sources said, was growing impatient with the NRZ's failure to operate effectively and rise to the level of other regional railway companies.

It was further revealed that the recent dramatic episode involving the failed NRZ and Transnet/DIDG US$400 million recapitalisation deal was the one that had broken the camel's back, forcing Matiza to come down heavily on the board.

"Government, and Matiza in particular, has a feeling that the NRZ and Transnet/DIDG deal has many skeletons in its closet. There is belief that there is more to it than just the deal failing to come on stream.

"The general feeling is that the management deficit in Mukwada and his entire crew is the one that disabled them from leading a successful negotiation of the DIDG deal. That is why Matiza insists there is need for the re-organisation of the management structure for the NRZ to come out of the woods," said a source that attended Thursday's no-holds-barred meeting.

Sources also revealed that Matiza, was angling for a return to the old system of managing NRZ affairs.

They said government was disinterested in the top-heavy management that is currently in place at the institution.

"The argument is that during Karakadzai's time, there were only two directors, one dealing with finance and administration and another one dealing with operations. Mukwada's management has, however, seen an expansion in management using the gender dimension to five directors. He has instead added another three directors, but there is nothing new that these have brought on stream. Instead, they are drawing salary perks which are draining the company's resources," said a source.

Furthermore, Mukwada's management stands accused of failing to see the retirement of the NRZ debt which sources said had scared away investors.

"Generally, the parastatal is in a mess. The rot has been allowed to manifest and it was a matter of time before the company fell into a ditch that it would have had difficulties to come out of," added the source.

Source - The Standard