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Power struggles hit Crisis Coalition

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Power struggles have surfaced at Crisis of Zimbabwe Coalition amid allegations of abuse of authority and nepotism.

Some of the allegations are captured in a memo written by the organisation’s programmes manager, Pedzisai Ruhanya, to the board chairman Johah Gokova.

In the memo Ruhanya says the organisation’s procedures manual was “violated with impunity” in relation to the appointment of the organisation’s director McDonald Lewanika last year, a position which Ruhanya had also applied for.

Lewanika was the Crisis Coalition chairman before becoming a director, and as the chairman, was responsible for the short-listing of candidates for the director’s position.

Documents at hand quote Ruhanya, who acted as a director of the organisation in 2005 before going abroad for studies, saying when the post arose, he applied to the chairperson, but did not get a response.

“He did not respond to me neither did the Coalition. The next thing I heard was that Mr Lewanika, who was the chairperson of the Coalition, had assumed the post of director. Due process was not followed, chair, in terms of the procedures laid above,” he said.

“There appears to be a case of abuse of office by the then chair now director of Crisis. Assuming that he applied for the job, was interviewed by members of the management committee, one cannot escape the glaring proximity of the director to this committee that he used to chair.

“There was a clear conflict of interest putting the whole exercise into a self-fulfilling exercise.”

Ruhanya said the situation needed to be addressed because it violated good corporate governance ethics which the organisation stands for hence a bad precedent had been set.

“It paints the organisation as corrupt and norm-violator which is contrary to what the organisation stands for. It weakens the capacity of the office of the director and its leadership to champion democratic processes at the national level when there is blatant violation of those values from within,” he said.

He said Lewanika was the chairperson of the youth committee, spokesperson and later chairperson before assuming the director’s post, adding that there was a danger of institutionalising personalities within the organisation.

Ruhanya said the employment of the finance manager was also questionable given that he is close to Lewanika.

The two allegedly worked together before joining Crisis Coalition. Gokova confirmed receiving the memo and said the matter was being looked at.

The board met last week and decided to seek the legal opinion of the Law Society of Zimbabwe.

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