A STORM is brewing at the Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority Holdings (Zesa) after the newly-appointed executive chairperson Sydney Gata’s plot to purge senior managers was exposed this week, leading to some tendering their resignation letters.
Senior Zesa officials told the Zimbabwe Independent that Gata, whose appointment late last year triggered a massive outcry, is orchestrating the removal of at least 20 managers across the parastatal’s departments and subsidiaries.
A well-placed source said “corporate and national politics”, coupled with a spirited bid by Gata to take full control of the struggling power utility, were the main reasons for the purges. It also emerged that the managerial changes targeting senior officers at the state enterprise could be implemented as early as Monday.
Gata is also said to have been meeting with former Zesa managers who were fired from the parastatal last year after they were implicated in an audit report for corruption, mismanagement and incompetence, raising speculation that he might be contemplating bringing them back.
Officials said, in a suprise move, Gata invited all previously fired managers to attend the parastatal’s “2020 strategic meetings”. “He wants to fire over 20 managers and, strangely, he wants to replace some of them with former Zesa managers. He claims the current ones, mostly engineers, don’t have the capacity to spearhead his unbundling strategy and so they must be fired. This week, he is having 2020 strategic meetings in Harare and 21 former managers are attending. If these guys had retired it would make sense but they were fired for incompetence,” an official at the company said.
Sources further said since his return to Zesa, where he has previously had two stints, leaving unceremoniously on both occasions, Gata has been openly accusing some of his subordinates from his previous engagements of coordinating his dismissal in 2006.
“Currently, two managers have already tendered their resignations, alleging persecution. These are group secretary and legal adviser Saidi Sangula and head of corporate affairs Rufaro Pasipanodya who submitted their resignation letters on Tuesday. He is however refusing to accept their resignations notwithstanding that he already has lined up replacements for the two who are, however, yet to sign employment contracts,” the source said.
Efforts to contact Sangula and Pasipanodya were fruitless as their mobile phones were unreachable.Gata confirmed he is having meetings with the former employees, but claimed there was nothing amiss about it. He also said he had invited engineers from the United Kingdom, Australia and South Africa.
“It’s actually former Zesa engineers and professionals in Eskom, UK and Australian power utilities who are being invited,” he said.
When asked about the allegations of a plot to purge some managers, Gata erupted into a frenzied outburst, declaring: “I want you to write all the rubbish that you want to write, but I am not going to give you any response on that. Why should I talk to you about those things? I happen not to be stupid.”
Gata’s first flirtation with Zesa was when he joined the organisation as its first black general manager soon after Independence.
He was dismissed from that position in 1995 after a commission of inquiry headed by retired High Court judge Justice George Smith made a finding that he was unfit to hold the position because of incompetence.
The commission’s report left the then energy minister, the late Herbert Ushewokunze, with no choice but to fire Gata.However, Gata bounced back as executive chairperson of Zesa in 2000 and oversaw the unbundling of the power utility into several companies that constitute Zesa Holdings today.
In 2006, Mike Nyambuya, then Energy minister at the time, again fired Gata after he became disillusioned with the manner he was running Zesa.