Oliver Kazunga, Senior Business Reporter
MORE than 280 workers at the National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ) have been redeployed to other departments that are understaffed within the entity as the ongoing restructuring exercise continues.
A total of 762 employees will be affected by the restructuring programme at NRZ and management have assured the workers that no job losses will be triggered by the ongoing exercise.
The Government, which has given the nod to the restructuring programme believes the exercise would capacitate NRZ to ensure the entity plays its part towards attainment of an upper middle-income economy by 2030.
NRZ acting public relations manager Mr Martin Banda said his organisation has been on perennial decline mode for quite some time owing to shrinking business volumes on the back of depressed economic activities coupled with failure to providing efficient transportation service.
“NRZ since it has been on perennial decline mode for some time owing to the shrinking business volumes as a result of the depressed economic activities coupled with NRZ failing to provide an efficient transport service due to the challenges which are there in terms of the rolling stock and infrastructure that is dilapidated. In terms of rolling stock, we have got challenges in terms of acquiring spares mainly due to economic sanctions, which are also there,” he said.
The shareholder, which is Government, Mr Banda said after realising the challenges such as statutory obligations and unsustainable overhead costs bedeviling the railways entity, recommended the restructuring exercise to turn around its fortunes.
“The aim is to bring improvement in the quality of service delivery through optimisation of the organisation operational activities, cost- based rationalisation and profitability enhancement. Out of about 4 500 employees, we have got 762 workers mainly affected by the restructuring exercise. And from those 762, we have got 288 who have already been deployed into others areas within the organisation,” he said.
“Bearing in mind that on a monthly basis, we have got a natural attrition of almost 30 people leaving service due to age, medical reasons and some who opt to leave the railways.
“So, at the end of the day we are talking of some adverts which are going to be advertised for about 200 people and these are non-officers and staff.
“We are a public entity and therefore, it means we cannot simply selectively choose somebody to take a position.
“These positions will be advertised in the public media, and those with the necessary qualifications will respond and absorbed on merit.”
Mr Banda said the ongoing restructuring programme is expected to be completed by December this year.
Government has directed NRZ to come up with a leaner top management team and this entails trimming the number of executive directors from six to three.
As part of the restructuring exercise, the NRZ board chaired by Advocate Martin Dinha, last year retired some executive directors that included former general manager, Engineer Lewis Mukwada.
The parastatal has trimmed the number of executive directors from six to three.
At present, Mrs Respina Zinyanduko is acting general manager.
Speaking by telephone from Harare yesterday, Mrs Zinyanduko said the restructuring programme was not a witchhunt thus no one will be retrenched.
“The restructuring exercise is not a witchhunt and we have assured our workers that no one will be made redundant.
What is happening is that some people have already been redeployed within NRZ to departments that are understaffed.
“Where we have got excess staff, such workers will be registered under the general manager’s pool and will remain there until redeployed by management.
“As a result of the restructuring exercise, there will be less than five managerial positions that will be advertised externally such positions are in departments like finance and procurement, where certain skills cannot be obtained internally,” she said, adding that the restructuring programme was 80 percent complete.
Commenting on speculation that NRZ public relations manager Mr Nyasha Maravanyika was on suspension, she said: “Employee issues are confidential. We respect our employee rights and thus don’t discuss such with third parties.” – @KazungaOliver