17 June 2014

Zimbabwe: 'Zanu-PF Cronyism On Display At Zesa'

ZANU PF Energy Minister Dzikamai Mavhaire has come under fire for appointing party comrades to head the struggling Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (ZESA) and its nine subsidiaries.

The appointments were announced Friday and the list consists of the minister's close ally Walter Mutsauri and his Masvingo Province homeboys Elias Musakwa, Jacob Chademana, and Willard Chiwewe.

Other political have-beens include ex-Finance Minister Herbert Murerwa who will chair the board, President Mugabe's nephew Patrick Zhuwawo, John Mvundura, Nyasha Mandeya, Callistus Ndlovu, ex-deputy Transport Minister Zenzo Nsimbi among others.

Ex-ZESA chief executive Benjamin Rafemoyo, who resigned in 2010 amid allegations of incompetence, will deputise Murerwa. Mavhaire said his appointments are "balanced in terms of skills mix, experience, region and gender".

When pressed by the media to explain why politicians dominated the ZESA boards, Mavhaire said to question him is to question Mugabe's authority.

He added: "Minister Obert Mpofu appointed Godwills Masimirembwa as chairman and why didn't you ask him about that. That is what the President has always said that you always want to attack people's personalities.

"To us, everyone in that board met the criteria that was approved by the highest authority in the country," Mavhaire told the Chronicle newspaper Friday.

Despite the minister's defensive response, Zimbabweans continue to voice their disdain at his "show of corporate failure and bad corporate governance".

National Constitutional Assembly spokesman Madock Chivasa said the minister's 'mix' lacked the desired expertise to improve the problems affecting ZESA holdings.

"ZANU PF is abusing the privilege of being in government to undermine the need for skills and experience required to run parastatals. Most of the appointments made seek to give relevance to failed ZANU PF politicians.

"NCA is placing it on record that these appointments make it clear that ZANU PF is politicising parastatals and is rewarding as well as celebrating mediocrity," Chivasa said.

Economic analyst Masimba Kuchera said the inefficiency and power supply problems that now define ZESA will not end as long as ZANU PF officials keep appointing their friends to head parastatals.

"What we need are professionals who will be paid based on performance, and who know that for the economy to thrive we need uninterrupted power supply," Kuchera told SW Radio Africa last week.

Commentator Dan Manyika described the appointments as a demonstration of patronage, nepotism and cronyism, and said nothing in the track records of the appointees justified their elevation to the ZESA boards.

Speaking on Tuesday, former MDC-T Energy Minister Elton Mangoma said the manner in which the appointments were made is "retrogressive".

"The appointments are based on cronyism and such thinking won't take this country forward. While I have great respect for Murerwa, I do not think he has anything to add as ZESA board chairperson. In fact, most of the people on Mavhaire's boards do not add any value to the ZESA.

"ZESA is just a microcosm of what ZANU PF has always done, and that is looking after themselves and their friends. On display yet again is the ruling party's culture of cronyism."

"Rafemoyo failed at ZESA and he will continue to fail. What we are seeing is the continuation of the ZANU PF culture of using parastatals as feeding troughs, rather than institutions for serving the nation," Mangoma told SW Radio Africa Tuesday.

The previous ZESA board which Mangoma said "was made up of progressive professionals with a vision for the parastatal" was dismissed by the current minister who accused them of underperforming.

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