Tendai Mugabe Harare Bureau—
Mines and Mining Development secretary Professor Francis Gudyanga, is chairing three parastatal boards that fall under his ministry — a move that has created conflict of interest and flouting of the national code on corporate governance that bars permanent secretaries from sitting on such boards. This comes in the wake of accusations that Prof Gudyanga had also single-handedly hired Mark Mabhudhu from the now dissolved Marange Resources to be the chief executive officer for the newly established Zimbabwe Consolidated Diamond Company (ZCDC).
Prof Gudyanga and Mabhudhu worked together at Marange Resources and the latter’s appointment at the ZCDC came as a shocker since he was coming from one of the worst performing companies operating in Chiadzwa.
Mabhudhu has since been fired from the diamond firm. The boards that Prof Gudyanga is chairing should be accountable to him as the ministry’s accounting officer and the current arrangement, which is at odds with the code, left him in an awkward position where he reports to himself.
The parastatals that he chairs include the Zimbabwe Consolidated Mining Company, Mineral Exploration and Marketing Company and the Zimbabwe School of Mines. It is also alleged that he had some links with a Dubai based firm, which is the largest buyer of Zimbabwe’s diamonds.
Prof Gudyanga said he was only chairing the boards in an interim capacity. Although he said his mandate at the said parastatals was temporary, the law does not allow one to act as chairman of an organisation for more than three months.
Said Prof Gudyanga: “The ZCDC chairing is just interim. What happened is that when we were working on the consolidation, we hoped that the other companies will come in the consolidation. So, what was appointed as the board was half of the board.
“The other half was going to come from the other companies and since the other companies didn’t come in (and) because we’ve to go ahead, a board was appointed and new names have been submitted to the board, so I’m only interim until the full board is appointed. So there are names that are being considered.”
With regards to the Mineral Exploration and Marketing Company, Prof Gudyanga again said he was only acting. He said his occupation of those offices was blessed by the Minister of Mines and Mining Development Cde Walter Chidhakwa in consultation with “higher offices.”
“Ever since the government decided that MMCZ will be transformed into a Mineral Exploration and Marketing Company and the processes have been in progress, and as soon as that is completed a new board will be appointed,” he said.
“We had anticipated that this will be a quick one but it’s going through a parliamentary pace. The minister with concurrence of higher offices felt that as a ministry we want to have a close monitoring of this transition from MMCZ to a new company and as soon as this is completed, there’ll be a new board as appropriate in the normal fashion.
“There is nothing sinister. Yes, the ministry is keeping a close watch on our parastatals so that we protect the interests of the country at all costs and at all times.”
Asked on the rationale of appointing Mabhudhu to the ZCDC, Prof Gudyanga said Mabhudhu outperformed other prospective candidates during the interviews.
“When we advertised for the post at ZCDC, he applied and at the interview he outperformed all the others so easily because he has 20 years of diamond experience from South Africa, Botswana De Beers,” said Prof Gudyanga.
“It wasn’t because he came from Marange and I think you should emphasise that. He just outperformed everyone else who applied for the post. “The management executives appointed to the ZCDC were done by this board, and these executives were appointed on a probation basis.”
He said Mabhudhu was, however, fired after failing a polygraph test. Legal experts yesterday said one cannot be just dismissed from work on the basis of polygraph tests, which might raise eyebrows on why Mabhudhu was fired in a haste.
“One has to be charged first and called for a hearing where the employer or anyone conducting that hearing should lead evidence. You can’t just be fired based on the evidence of a machine.”
Sources claimed that Mabhudhu failed to perform according to expectations at the ZCDC and the polygraph tests, and his subsequent firing was a soft landing devised for him by senior officials from the ministry.