HWANGE Colliery Company yesterday suspended its managing director, Thomas Makore, on allegations of corruption.
BY XOLISANI NCUBE
Acting board chairperson, Juliana Muskwe, in a statement yesterday said the measure was taken following reports of disharmony within the company’s top management.
“Hwange Colliery Company wishes to advise shareholders and members of the public that it has become aware of allegations of impropriety that have emerged following a dispute of two senior company officials. As such, the company advises that it has instituted formal investigations into those allegations and shareholders and members of the public shall be advised of the outcome in due course,” the statement read in part.
Makore, who recently had a nasty public spat with company secretary Allen Masiya, confirmed his suspension, but could not divulge the circumstances and reasons.
“It’s, true I have been suspended,” he said.
Makore took over the levers of power at the colliery company in 2014 and since then, the company’s fortunes have been on the decline, with analysts blaming his management of running down the country’s leading coal producer.
Government holds 37% shareholding in the struggling coal miner.
Hwange’s balance sheet has been deteriorating in recent years from a positive shareholders’ equity of $37,2 million in 2014 to a negative $167,7 million in 2016.
Its liabilities outstripped assets by $168 million.
In 2017, the company registered a loss of $43,84 million, while corruption and underhand deals topped its activities.
Its workers have gone for months without salaries and, at some point, the company planned to sell its properties to sustain operations.
HCC spends $1,8 million on salaries for its 2 045 workers every month, but needs only about 1 000.
The company also faced challenges in dealing with legacy debts, frequent breakdown of equipment, and high production costs which were causing the company to fail to break even.
For more than 100 days, wives of Hwange Colliery workers have been demonstrating at the company’s premises, demanding that their husbands be paid.
They have also been calling for Makore’s sacking, whom they accused of corruption, inept and not sensitive to their plight.
President Emmerson Mnangagwa had to dispatch Home Affairs minister Obert Mpofu to address the demonstrating women, but they could not take his word, as they accused Makore and his executive of corruption.