HWANGE Colliery Company Limited has suspended four senior managers who were reportedly implicated in corrupt deals, unethical business practices and financial mismanagement.
BY XOLISANI NCUBE/NDABIKHONA NKOMO
Acting company chairperson Juliana Muskwe yesterday confirmed the suspensions of Shepherd Manamike, who was acting managing director after the unceremonious departure of Thomas Makore in May, Tawanda Marapira (finance executive), Raymond Munangwa (human resources executive) and an unnamed assistant finance manager pending investigation into their conduct.
“Yes, we have suspended four managers. The company has witnessed unethical business practices characterised by financial improprieties, particularly unauthorised expenditure. The circumstances are unacceptable especially when the company was focused on production and sales,” Muskwe said.
Muskwe in a statement yesterday, said the senior officials were suspended with effect from October 4.
“Due to the unauthorised financial transactions, the company failed to meet its key obligations due to its creditors and employees. However, this is just a temporary setback occasioned by substandard performance within management structures, which the board assures all stakeholders it is on course to address and restore normalcy,” she said.
Hwange, which is choking under millions of dollars in debt, is said to have lost up to $2 million in suspected corrupt deals.
The board reportedly wanted a forensic audit, but was told to stop the process by Mines minister Winston Chitando.
A board member claimed most of the suspended managers were recruited when the minister was the Hwange board chairperson.
In July, shareholders reportedly blocked moves by Chitando to unilaterally dissolve the coal miner’s board midway through a massive corruption investigation involving senior management at the firm.
The board announced that it was sitting on 345 000 tonnes of coal, which could be turned into an estimated revenue of $13 million if management was effective.
“It is unacceptable that with such stock the company fails to meet its financial obligations,” Muskwe said.
Early this year, HCCL suspended Makore on allegations of insubordination, bribery and mismanagement of the State-linked mining firm. Makore then later offered to step down as company managing director to avoid being dragged to a disciplinary hearing.
The decision to suspend Makore followed reports of disharmony within the company’s top management and unearthing of corruption issues that had been kept under wraps for years.
Makore had a nasty public spat with company secretary Allen Masiya which led to the unearthing of underhand deals within the organisation.
The government holds 37% shareholding in the coal miner whose 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.
The mining firm has also been struggling to pay its employees and at some point planned to sell its properties to sustain operations.