The appointment of Dr Sydney Gata as executive chairman of Zesa Holdings (Pvt) Ltd, continues to draw criticism with the country’s development and technical partners in crafting the Public Entities Corporate Governance Act becoming the latest to express their displeasure.
Energy and Power Development Minister Fortune Chasi in November announced a new board of directors for the power utility to be chaired by Dr Gata in an executive capacity with the minister justifying the appointment as compelling.
The move has quickly been received with sharp criticism from human resources experts as well as good corporate governance proponents.
Now, a World Bank consultant and a retired judge has joined the critics and bemourned the appointment of an executive chairperson at the utility.
Speaking at the official launch of the Act in Harare yesterday, World Bank consultant in public financial management and State entities reforms, Mr Sonny Mabheju, said while the Act provides for specific roles for State entities’ board of directors and management separately, it, however, does not provide for both combined.
“There is really no specific provision for that (executive chairman appointment) . . . it (the Act) sets the board members separately from executive management,” said Mr Mabheju.
“Specific terms for the chief executive and his team are specifically provided for in the Act, and also terms for the board members and the board chair are also specifically provided for in the Act.
“There is no section anywhere in the Act where there is provision that there can be an executive chairperson and in any case, in most cases that scenario is being discouraged,” he said.
Former High Court judge, Justice Moses Chinhengo who spoke after Mr Mabhengu, concurred with the World Bank consultant and added that the undesirability of an executive chairman in state entities is self-evident.
The arrangement, he said, was fertile ground for conflict between management already in situ and the incoming executive chairman.
“The undesirability of it is self-evident. You have an executive chairman coming into a parastatal, I am very certain the first thing he will say is he wants the biggest office,” said Justice Chinhengo.
“Now the CEO who must be head of the organisation — you start off with a conflict immediately. Where is he going to sit? Will he accept the executive chairman and sit in some corner office,” he queried.
The Public Entities Corporate Governance Act was enacted into law last year as Government moved in to foster accountability and effective management of state-owned entities many of which had been rundown due to management inefficiencies and corruption.
In the case of Zesa, Minister Chasi has, however, insisted that the creation of an executive chairman’s post was in the best interest of the power utility.
“I also needed somebody who will break the barriers, who is not bureaucratic, who understands and is current regarding what Government is looking at with regards to Zesa,”
“ . . . requires that you have somebody who is in situ on a day to day basis and if you have somebody who has the experience and knowledge of the organisation, why should we double the expenses by having a CEO and a chairman who will be doing basically the same thing except chairing the meeting,” argued the Minister.
The Act will also see the end of “career CEOs” as the it stipulates that one can only serve for a maximum of two, five year terms.