By Nigel Pfunde
Telecel employees on Monday staged a sit in and refused to vacate the mobile networks’ company boardroom compelling the chief executive Angeline Vere to flee as pressure mounted.
The employees are lamenting over meagre wages and incapacitation and their calls for an upward review of salaries has fallen on deaf ears.
Management addressed employees at the company headquarters in Harare, but the meeting reached a deadlock with employees vowing to sit in until Wednesday.
“The management particularly the chief executive (Angeline Vere) said the company’s coffers are dry and said she will get back to us on Wednesday.
She had to leave in a huff around pm as she could not contain the pressure.
“So we will not leave the boardroom as we await for her on Wednesday.
“We can’t afford to pay for transport and the salary erosion needs cushioning. Management is enjoying big perks while we suffer,” said an employee who concealed his identity for fear of reprisal.
“The board chair James Makamba and Vere are making decisions for self enrichment rather than Telecel’s interests. Minister Muswere must intervene,” added the source.
Recently, Vere was accused of buying a top of the range vehicle without board approval and employees were bitter.
Deafening calls for Vere’s ouster have been echoing for a prolonged period forcing board members to clash.
Some members drew swords against Vere on allegations of turning the mobile telecommunications company into a loss-making entity since taking over the reins in 2015.
Government assumed a controlling stake in Telecel after buying a 60 percent stake in 2016.
Vere’s nemesis backed the ouster calls on the basis that she failed to uphold her fiduciary duties and failed to produce audited financial statements through the five-year period through 2018.
However, the Telecel ‘iron lady’ scoffed at the allegations and said her mandate is to report to the board and subsequently the regulatory authority (POTRAZ) and she has never diverted from such.
“Well, first and foremost I do not report to staffers and have no obligation to be their buddies.
“I report to the board and they approved the purchase of that vehicle.
“Where did your source get that US$2 million figure, I was entitled to that car and I was supposed to buy a car worth $US150 000 but I bought a cheaper one for US$95 000 last year around October.
“Staffers do not know the terms of my contract and if they want to push for salary increases there are proper channels not the Press,” Vere told Zim Morning Post in a recent telephone interview.
Impeccable sources told Zim Morning Post that Vere is perceived as Makamba’s ‘blue eyed girl’ hence her unpopularity with staffers, stakeholders and some board members.
The fissures are said to have widened when early this year, after his return from self imposed exile, Makamba moved to suspend board member and ex-CEO Mr Francis Mawindi for allegedly leaking confidential company information.
It is believed that Mawindi has been persistently raising the flag over Vere’s alleged failure to adhere to prudential management practices and unilaterally making questionable decisions, which had negative implications on the company’s finances, without seeking board approval.
However, in an email to board members dated 3 September 2018, Vere said the company had failed to implement its turnaround strategies after failing to secure a US$5 million loan for the exercise.
Sources said Telecel was being run by ‘three musketeers’ namely Vere, finance director Ezra Chinake and Obert Mandimika.
“In my interaction with Telecel as a stakeholder for years, I have noted that this company is run by three people Chinake, Vere and Mandimika.
“For an organization as big as that it’s unhealthy to concentrate power and decisions only to a handful of people,” said one of our sources. Zim Morning Post