CONTRARY to claims by First Mutual Ltd (FML) that its chief executive officer Norman Sachikonye agreed to step down from his post, it has emerged that he was fired by the board after an urgen
t directors’ meeting last Sunday.
The FML board of directors wrote to the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange (ZSE) on Monday this week indicating that Sachikonye and chairman Ian Makone had “agreed” to step down.
The ZSE had issued an ultimatum demanding the resignation of Sachikonye and Makone before the company could resume trading on the bourse. FML has been suspended since March 8.
Sachikonye was fired on Sunday while Makone was forced to withdraw his initial attempt to offer himself for re-election.
Addressing his last shareholder meeting, outgoing chairman Makone revealed that the board had decided to “terminate Sachikonye’s employment” to have the company’s suspension from the bourse lifted.
This is in stark contrast to the toned down statement to the ZSE indicating that the chief executive had “agreed to step down”.
He said Sachikonye was also dismissed to satisfy the demands from the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development and the Commissioner of Insurance.
The authorities had demanded Sachikonye’s dismissal as part of the conditions for the insurance company to renew its licence.
“At a meeting held on May 30 the board of directors decided to terminate the chief executive’s employment,” said Makone in an emotional speech. “This is the price we had to pay for the lifting of the licence and also to get a licence. The issue with the authorities has since been resolved.
“We said (to the authorities) that if it is the chief executive’s head you want, then you can have it.”
Sachikonye has been with FML for the past 16 years.
Douglas Hoto, managing director of First Mutual Life, FML’s subsidiary, has since been appointed acting chief executive officer.
The search for a substantive chief executive has already begun.
Makone and Sachikonye’s early exit however failed to cool down shareholders who went on to grill directors and management for what they called mismanagement at the annual general meeting.
Shareholders also demanded the immediate resignation of the whole board and management.
“Mr Chairman, what took you and the chief executive so long to resign? You have sacrificed us long enough and I think the whole management should have resigned,” said one angry shareholder.
Another furious shareholder told the directors that the company had not added value to his investment portfolio.
“As a shareholder I judge the value of my share by what goes into my pocket. Mr Chairman what value have you put into my pocket? There was no dividend. I got nothing from this company.”
The shareholders also expressed concern over the Capital Alliance fiasco.
They demanded an explanation as to why only four members of the management received the bulk of the shares from the share scheme.
They also blasted the board for allowing insurance giant Old Mutual to make an overture on Trust Holdings Ltd in which FML holds a 27% stake.
Meanwhile, FML’s resumed trade on the stock exchange had immediately made an impact trading at $29 on Tuesday, up from $14 on Monday.