BY NKULULEKO SIBANDA
HEADS have started rolling at the State-run National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ) after government demanded a management restructuring exercise in an effort to turn around the fortunes of the loss-making parastatal.
NRZ spokesperson Nyasha Maravanyika confirmed to NewsDay last week that the restructuring programme had taken off, with three directors being forced into early retirement.
A senior manager was also sent on forced leave pending investigation into his conduct.
“As you are aware, the Minister of Transport (Joel Biggie Matiza) visited Bulawayo on the 7th and 31st of July 2020 to meet with the NRZ board and give it a new direction which the parastatal should take,” Maravanyika said.
“That direction has naturally become a directive on the board to restructure management and give it new impetus, new thinking and new approach to the affairs of the company.”
He said following the meetings and consultations between government and the new board, several officials had been asked to take up early retirement alongside former general manager, Lewis Mukwada.
“Stakeholders would need to appreciate that since the July 31 meeting, the board and ministry have since finalised on the appointment of board member, Joseph Mashika as acting general manager.
“. . . We have also seen three substantive directors, that of marketing, operations, and corporate affairs also going on early retirement effective August 5, 2020. All the stakeholders need to appreciate that the process which has led to the aforementioned former officials going on early retirement was not a witch hunt. It was not targeting anyone. It was a process that is meant to ensure that the organisation revitalises and revamps so as to be able to tackle the challenge that lies ahead of it,” Maravanyika added.
The new NRZ management has been tasked with, among other things, dealing with space barons that are leasing out NRZ premises without management’s knowledge.
“An audit report that was done in 2017 showed that the NRZ is losing $22 million annually to space barons in Harare only. If we use that as a basis and calculate the losses nationally where the NRZ has properties, we will realise that there is a lot of money that has been lost to these barons,” Maravanyika said.
Procurement was another key area of focus.
“We have the procurement and supplies area as one of the areas that the new NRZ management has been given a task to sort out. You are aware that the NRZ is a major seller of scrap metal from some of its equipment that has been de-commissioned,” Maravanyika said.
“This is one area that has drawn unnecessary attention to the company owing to the manner in which some of the tenders around scrap metal have been handled. In that area, the NRZ board has directed that the supply stores manager be suspended pending investigations into how that department has been handling matters.”