There was extreme tension between suspended NetOne chief executive officer Reward Kangai and board chairperson Alex Marufu long before a new chief finance officer was appointed at the State-owned mobile operator, NewsDay has gathered.
BY SILENCE CHARUMBIRA
Kangai was on Monday sent on a three-month paid leave to facilitate investigations into financial irregularities unearthed by new chief finance officer Sibusisiwe Ndlovu at the country’s second biggest mobile operator. Kangai also stands accused of having tried to frustrate Ndlovu’s appointment.
NewsDay understands that Ndlovu’s arrival at the organisation only presented cannon fodder for Marufu to attack Kangai whom he labelled a “donkey”.
According to correspondence seen by NewsDay, Kangai wrote to the permanent secretary of Information and Communications Technology, Postal and Courier Services Sam Kundishora complaining of Marufu’s conduct.
The letter was dated February 19, 2016 and was in response to an article carried in the State media concerning corporate malfeasances at NetOne.
Kangai told Kundishora that Marufu had verbally attacked him during the interviewing of Ndlovu.
“He [Marufu] asked Ndlovu the question as to how she would handle herself, cast in between a chairman, whom, according to his own wife, is a ‘bully’ and a managing director, he described as a ‘donkey’,” Kangai wrote.
“I believe the attack on me by the chairman was predicated on the fact that in 2014, he was pushing for the appointment of a colleague in the department of information technology (IT), he once worked with. The position which was vacant in the IT department was head of department level and not at director level.”
Kangai alleged that Marufu pushed for the creation of a directorship position and “we prepared a paper seeking board authorisation and this was submitted to the Human Resources Committee of the board and the main board for authorisation”.
“Before the main board had approved it, the board chairman was already pushing [bullying] for the appointment to be effected, before the approval process had been completed, and naturally, I was insisting on following due process. I believe this is what he deemed as resistance, hence calling me in that derogatory manner,” Kangai said.
Kangai said Ndlovu contravened Section 18(2) W of the Labour Relations Act “as she only went on maternity leave after her delivery, without producing that certificate (conveniently concealed the expected delivery date)”.
“A situation where a woman chooses not to take the mandatory 21 leave days and goes directly from the workplace to the delivery room, is not and has never been contemplated in our Labour Relations Act, neither can it be reasonably envisaged, given the rapid psychological changes taking place in the expectant mother’s body,” Kangai wrote.
“While the regulation of maternity leave is undoubtedly in the interests of the expectant mother and unborn child, the protection of the employer from undesirable actions arising from the psychological changes during pregnancy is implicit.”
He said some of the “ludicrous, absurd and absolutely illogical statements attributed to the chief finance officer can at best be explained away by the inter-play of the above factors”.
“For example, that payments were being made based on verbal agreement. How else can such statements be explained away?” Kangai said, adding that Ndlovu should have been away from critical decisions that affect going concern aspects of NetOne as provided for by the Labour Relations Act.
“It is, therefore, most tragic and certainly unfortunate when the chairman of the board, chooses to encourage a woman burdened by pre and post natal demands, to report for duty, when the law provides that she should be resting and convalescing at home.”
Kangai said Marufu had threatened him with dismissal in a September 4, letter for alleged delay in issuance of offer letters although he said the delays had been due to necessary security checks.
“Prior to that, the chairman surreptitiously offered me an early retirement exit from the company, clearly to pave way for ulterior motives, as the recent events have come to testify,” the document read.
Contacted for comment, Kangai told NewsDay: “I am on forced leave and have been gagged.”
Kundishora told NewsDay: “Things were discussed in meetings where nothing of that nature was discussed.”
Marufu said: “As far as I am concerned we had no issues with the chief executive officer. We had a sound working relationship. If there was something that was raised, it was not copied to me.”