FORMER Telecel Zimbabwe chief executive officer Francis Mawindi has challenged his dismissal and is demanding over $1 million in damages or reinstatement as details emerge that he was fired, NewsDay has established.
Report by Bernard Mpofu
Mawindi has taken the country’s second largest mobile phone operator to the ministry of Labour seeking conciliation which has been set for next Thursday.
It is believed that Mawindi was earning in excess of $20 000 in salaries, allowances and other benefits.
Contrary to initial reports that Mawindi had voluntarily thrown in the towel, court papers in possession of this paper and information gathered from impeccable sources show that Mawindi, whom for less than a year had been in charge of the country’s second largest mobile phone operator, is unhappy over his dismissal.
Following reports of his sacking on April 1, many thought that this development was a Fool’s Day prank. But that was not the case! Angeline Vere, former Telecel company secretary and legal adviser was elevated to general manager following Mawindi’s dismissal.
After his dismissal, Mawindi, according to the court papers, on April 30 wrote a letter of demand to Telecel Zimbabwe for redress, but nothing materialised.
“On March 26, 2013, he got the shock of his life when he was served with a letter summarily and unlawfully terminating his contract of employment after attending a board meeting which, in his own view, later turned out to be a kangaroo court in Cairo, Egypt,” said his lawyers Matsikidze and Mucheche legal practitioners in a letter written to the Provincial labour officer for Harare.
“The aforementioned “bush court” was chaired by the company’s board chairman James Makamba. The summary dismissal was effected by the employer acting through two exotic directors whose names have been furnished to us.”
Mawindi, according to the lawyers, was on a three year contract which he had a legitimate expectation that it would be renewed after its expiry in 2015.
Information at hand shows that resistance to excessive shareholder control and lack of management autonomy resulted in a tiff between Mawindi and the majority shareholder leading to his dismisal.
“Alternatively, if the employer is unable to reinstate him, he wants to be paid damages in lieu of reinstatement made up of the full salaries and benefits for the unexpired period of his contract of employment plus full salaries and benefits for an additional three years after its expiry in 2015 plus payment of legal costs that he shall incur in this matter,” the lawyers said.
Telecel Zimbabwe is a unit of Egypt-headquartered Orascom Telecom.
Telecel Zimbabwe, sources said, requires authorisation and approval from Egypt for virtually everything valued at over $25 000 and in most cases outsources practically all purchases including consulting services regardless of whether the products or services can be readily sourced from the local market.
Mawindi took over from expatriate John Swaim in July, who was then the acting chief executive officer.
A US-born Swiss national, Swaim was at one stage deported from Zimbabwe and later returned after strong lobbying from different local groups with vested interest in the mobile communications company. Swaim has since been tipped to return at the helm of Telecel.
Mawindi’s appointment was widely seen as the board’s commitment to appoint a local at the helm of the company barely five years after ex-CEO Rex Chibeza threw in the towel in 2007.
In its first quarter performance, Orascom Telecom (ORTE) announced that the company is conducting talks over terms and conditions of license renewal for its unit in Zimbabwe Telecel.
OT added, in a release said Telecel Zimbabwe is not part of the company’s consolidated financial results adding that it represents a very tiny percentage of the group’s total revenues.
The mobile phone company reported that net income before minority interest stood at a loss of $204 million, mainly driven by the adverse impact of foreign exchange losses of $173 million and the impairment of assets held for sale by $58 million, as to reflect the fair value of its operations in Central African Republic and Burundi.