Minister misled cabinet

ENERGY and Power Development minister retired lieutenant-general Mike Nyambuya could have misled cabinet on Zesa Holdings restructuring exercise two years ago.

Nyambuya told cabinet in May 2006 in a memorandum titled Proposals for rationalisation of Zesa Successor Companies that Zesa was overstaffed and that this was straining the finances of the group.

Nyambuya convinced cabinet to approve a voluntary retrenchment and restructuring exercise that resulted in the utility losing a lot of skills which worsened the problem.

Nyambuya also informed cabinet that most of the overstaffing had occurred in senior and executive management positions and that this was the main reason behind Zesa’s push for a tariff increase.

The minister told cabinet that a restructuring exercise was urgent, documents in the possession of businessdigest reveal.

A report that Zesa submitted to the cabinet at that time accuses Nyambuya of giving wrong figures and information in order to achieve his plans to restructure the utility.

The reports said Nyambuya had misled the cabinet on a number of issues including staff deployment, operational efficiency, cost efficiency analysis and corporate governance.

The Zesa report said all the statistics Nyambuya presented in the report had been misleading.

“The minister’s presentation highlighted perceptions and concerns of an alleged top-heavy structure in Zesa and an alleged massive increase in employee numbers, citing statistics on total employee strength, executive management and senior management…all the statistics presented in the report are flawed…,” the report read.

The Zesa report also stated: “The report to cabinet was constructed on the premise of statistics with fundamental errors…and on conceptions that are fundamentally mistaken, leading to conclusions that are not valid.”

Nyambuya informed cabinet that Zesa’s unbundling exercise had increased staff levels within the troubled parastatal from 7 610 to 8 235.

Zesa’s report however said staff levels before unbundling had in fact been 7462 and that they had been reduced to 5831 after unbundling exercise in which cut 1631 jobs.

Zesa also denied claims by Nyambuya that there were seven executive management and 31 senior management posts before unbundling and that the unbundling exercise had resulted in 28 executive management and 312 senior management posts.

Zesa argued that there had been nine executive management posts and 185 senior management positions before the unbundling exercise which saw executive management posts rise to 27, while senior management positions were reduced to 174.

Zesa also argued that the only increase had been in executive management and that this was largely necessitated by creation of two new companies, Power Telecommunications (Powertel) and Zesa Enterprises resulting in the creation of nine new executive posts.

“The balance of nine is made up of former division chiefs and section heads in the former generation, transmission and consumer services divisions, who only changed titles to directors without change of grades, when the divisions became companies,” the report stated.

The report also details operational efficiency gains increasing after the unbundling exercise.

There was an eight percent increase in energy supplied, from 10 088 gigawatt hours (GWHs) to 10 891 GWHs, a 36,3% in total numbers of customers served, an 85,8% increase in the number of customers served per employee and a 47,4% increase in energy supplied per employee.

The report stated that Nyambuya’s statistics were basically flawed as Zesa was performing well in terms of efficiency gains related to staff deployment levels.

Nyambuya was not available for comment with his secretary saying he would only be in the office next Monday. Energy secretary Justin Mupamhanga was said to be in a meeting.

Since 2006, when Nyambuya’s voluntary retrenchment scheme for Zesa attained cabinet approval, Zesa lost 25 of the 27 executive managers to emerge from the unbundling exercise.

It has also lost over 200 senior managers out of the 312 who emerged after unbundling but opted for Nyambuya’s voluntary retrenchment exercise.

Energy sources said the skills loss was worsening the energy crisis facing Zesa, adding to other problems such as an archaic generation, distribution and transmission network, an unclear energy policy and lack of new investment in the energy sector.

Kuda Chikwanda

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