NRZ continues search for Diaspora GM

NRZ (1)Business Reporters
THE National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ) continues the search for a Diaspora general manager after 40 local applicants for the post failed to meet the standard early this year.

The giant parastatal has been operating without a substantive general manager since August 2013 following the death of Retired Air Commodore Mike Karakadzai in a car accident.

One of the top engineers, Lewis Mukwada, assumed the role in an acting capacity.

Delays in getting the right candidate for the job has become a cause for concern with economic analysts criticising the parastatal’s board and the Ministry of Transport and Infrastructural Development of not taking the revival of the company seriously.

NRZ is a strategic entity in the country’s economy, mainly in bulk transportation of goods, with a potential to employ more than 15,000 workers at peak.

Board chairman Alvord Mabena confirmed that finding a suitable candidate was still elusive.

“We’re finalising with the employment agency to start scouting for the names to be shortlisted to fill the position of a general manager. By our next board meeting, which is three months from now, we should be having the names of the shortlisted candidates,” said Mabena in an interview on Friday.

“We’re so anxious to get the matter concluded so that when we start our recapitalisation programme, we would have secured the substantive general manager.”

Economic analyst Sam Ncube said the process of NRZ resuscitation was “too slow and disappointing”.

“I think as a nation we’re mature now and we should tell each other the truth. NRZ is one of the engines of our economy and delays of this nature are mind-boggling.

“The Ministry of Transport and the board should work on this issue diligently. We see no reason why it’s taking so long to just get a general manager,” Ncube said.

“There are so many skilled managers, people who worked for NRZ who’re doing well in other countries and know what’s needed for this company.

“This delay shows that some people are not serious about their work. It’s a disservice to the country.”

Ncube, who is also deputy president of lobby group, Affirmative Action Group (AAG), said Transport Minister Obert Mpofu should push for the end of the general manager issue soon to pave the way for progress.

“The general manager is very crucial and this issue should be resolved as soon as possible without any excuses. This is a litmus test for those in charge. Is this delay a sign of failed leadership? This is disturbing and it shows there’s something wrong,” Ncube said.

Mabena has insisted a solution will be found after NRZ engaged a local employment agency to head hunt a suitable candidate in the Diaspora to fill the general manager’s post.

“We’re now putting pressure on the employment agency to finalise the process,” he said.

At the beginning of the year at least 40 local prospective candidates applied to head the ailing parastatal and six were shortlisted by end of February but all of them failed to make the grade.

Mpofu could not be reached for comment.

As part of stabilising the system, NRZ has managed to finalise positions of finance director and operations director respectively.

Minister Mpofu has said the government is in talks with the Development Bank of Southern Africa (DBSA) to secure a bailout package of up to $750 million to fund the rehabilitation of the parastatal’s infrastructure.

The troubled parastatal is struggling to pay its workers who are owed millions of dollars in unpaid salaries.

Dilapidated railway infrastructure, ageing wagons and locomotives as well as loss of signals, continue to weigh down the giant firm, which has lost business to haulage trucks.

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