FRESH internal squabbles are rocking state-owned Zimbabwe United Passenger Company (Zupco) over delays in reinstatement of executives suspended eight months ago for alleged corruption.
The three executives, who were suspended without charge, were reinstated by the Zupco board a fortnight ago.
However, the three, who include Mutare deport manager Godfrey Changanzo, are yet to be reinstated.
When contacted for comment on allegations that he was frustrating the reinstatement process, human resources executive Maxwell Mawire referred questions to acting chief executive officer (CEO), Evaristo Mudangwa.
“I don’t know what you are talking about. You can talk to the CEO,” he said before hanging up.
But letters from lawyers representing Changanzo seen by the Independent addressed to Changanzo challenged the suspension.
According to a letter dated December 12, 2022, Changanzo’s lawyers demanded his immediate reinstatement.
“With reference to your letter dated May 11, 2022 suspending our client indefinitely we note that labour law does not provide for such a position. Therefore, the letter is unlawful. Moreover a letter suspending an employee must specify the section of the code of conduct, which has been breached and the basis why the suspension is legally necessary,” reads the letter.
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“The letter is a legal nullity because it did not comply with the law and the suspension must be lifted henceforth. There is also a violation of section 68 of the Constitution.
“After eight months on suspension, our client expected to receive an outcome of the investigations carried out during his suspension but your office has not done so.”
Mudangwa requested questions in writing but had not responded by the time of going for print.
A source close to the developments told the Independent that the state-owned bus operator has been rocked by corruption allegations in the executive.
Zupco chairperson Quinton Kanhukamwe said the reinstatement of executives was an operational matter.
“I think those are operational issues. They are managed by the executive. I cannot speak on the matter,” he said.
On the CEO position, the state-owned bus company has shortlisted candidates.
Mudangwa has been acting for five years and superintending the revival of the company, which has been battling operational challenges.
Sources said President Emmerson Mnangagwa also raised concern that Mudangwa has been acting for too long.
The decision to hunt for a substantive CEO comes at a time when Zupco is struggling to service its routes.
The state-run company has been disintegrating over the years, leaving it with a depleted bus fleet for rural and urban operations.
The company has been losing a number of private operators contracted to boost operations for non-payment. The privately-owned buses were Zupco-branded.
The return of private transporters has pushed Zupco out of several urban routes.
Zupco has over the years been embroiled in several scandals, including the controversial procurement of buses two years ago.
The Independent reported in 2020 that leaked government documents showed that buses initially said to belong to Zupco were imported by a private company, Landela Investments, before being sold to the state enterprise at exorbitant prices.
The government correspondence indicated that Landela had sold 162 buses to government at a profit of US$154 000 per bus.
The Dragon buses have a 64-passenger capacity including the driver and each bus cost US$58 900. The buses were bought through a dealer, FAW Zimbabwe, which has offices in Harare.