By Oliver Kazunga
The National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ) has submitted to Government for consideration names of potential candidates to fill senior executive posts as part of the parastatal’s restructuring process.
The NRZ board, which is chaired by Advocate Martin Dinha, embarked on a restructuring programme last year to trim the number of executive directors from six to three.
The initiative has seen senior managers being retired as part of the restructuring drive to bring in “fresh blood” to turn around Zimbabwe’s strategic bulk goods transporter.
Former general manager, Engineer Lewis Mukwada, and three other senior managers, namely director marketing, Mrs Elector Mafunga, director corporate services, Mr Misheck Matanhire, and director operations, Mr Samson Bhuza, were fired last year.
Mr Joseph Mashika has been appointed acting general manager.
It is hoped that the restructuring exercise will result in managerial functions being reassigned into a smaller and leaner group of top employees from six executive directors to three and 15 senior managers.
In a telephone interview from Harare yesterday, Adv Dinha said they had submitted to the Office of the President and Cabinet, and the Ministry of Transport and Infrastructural Development some of the interviewed and shortlisted candidates to fill the posts at NRZ for security checks.
“We have interviewed for the post of general manager, corporate secretary, chief internal auditor and for financial director… the responses were poor, so, we are re-interviewing.
“For procurement, we are revamping our procurement system as you might be aware, it’s shambolic,” he said.
Adv Dinha said the parastatal awaits to be advised by Government on whether the names submitted qualified and passed through security checks before they can be appointed.
“There are processes such as security vetting and the other things that are done because we don’t want to employ undesirable elements.
“So, we’re waiting to be advised by Government whether those names we submitted qualified or they have passed through security vetting,” he said.
Adv Dinha said some of the vacant posts received international responses but some of the shortlisted candidates could not be interviewed because of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Asked why the interviews could not be done on the virtual platform, he said:
“We can’t conduct the interviews digitally because we want to see the candidates physically.
“Digital mechanisms always betray, we want to see the person physically and verify that we are talking to the right person.
“We must know the person, what if the person on the other side is not the person we would have shortlisted; people can post a dummy on digital platforms such as zoom or anything.”
The restructuring of NRZ, he said, was ongoing adding that they want to make sure the parastatal senior executives and management are aligned to the existing number of labour force and revenue being generated by the entity.
Contacted for comment on last year’s freight volumes, NRZ public relations manager Mr Nyasha Maravanyika said such figures were yet to be availed by the responsible department.
In 2020, the parastatal announced that it had been forced to revise downward its annual freight movement target by 10 percent for the year following a significant drop in business owing to a myriad of challenges NRZ faced in 2019.
Part of the parastatal’s challenges are largely to do with the company’s dilapidated rail infrastructure and obsolete equipment, which includes locomotives, coaches and wagons.
In 2019, the entity missed its target of hauling 4,2 million tonnes of cargo, only managing to transport 2,8 million tonnes, which again was 17,6 percent less compared with the 2018’s achievement of 3,4 million tonnes.
At its peak in the 1990s, the company used to move about 14,4 million tonnes of freight against an installed capacity of 18 million tonnes. The Chronicle.