EXCLUSIVE: State media CEO in extraordinary Information Minister attack

EXCLUSIVE: State media CEO in extraordinary Information Minister attack

The panicked CEO of a publicly-owned media house has taken the extraordinary step of writing a formal complaint, accusing the new Information Minister Jenfan Muswere of victimisation and harassment!

By The Watcher (Samaz)

NONSENSE – quite like the theft of canal pleasures – is in the habit of happening without notice or invitation; and so, it is because of NONSENSE that The Watcher must launch this column ahead of plan and without its due pomp and circumstance.

You see, the King does not ordinarily appear on the Buckingham Palace balcony before the natives are gathered in their unwashed numbers to ululate and venerate his glorified royalty.

But nonsense has been perpetrated in the palace, and so we can’t wait – let’s get straight to it. The Watcher – ever so watchful and listening-full – has gathered that the panicked CEO of a publicly-owned media house has taken the extraordinary step of writing a formal complaint, accusing the new Information Minister Jenfan Muswere of victimisation and harassment!

And, kuti zvityise  (if you don’t get Shona this means to frighten Minister Muswere – himself a likeable gent) the CEO reiterated, in said letter, their liberation war credentials; in other words – I can’t be touched because I war-ed for this country!

Further, the CEO – who we gather calls themselves Cde Mozambique – reportedly boasts in meetings that the new Minister is asking silly questions because he knows nothing about the media and will therefore need some quick and patient schooling.

Ok readers, we will get back to these claimed liberation struggle credentials later; first, we must expose the full extent of the mischief against Minister Muswere.

Now, those who follow public media spaces will be aware of a twosome with ambitions on the very State House – after current incumbent is finished. That duo controlled, and therefore, dominated public media in the last government; everything (and nothing) they did was extensively reported on … to the annoyance of other Ministers who barely made the headlines.

So, what does the two-some do? Well, one of the pair raises the matter of Cde Mozambique’s letter. The argument, so The Watcher is informed, was that Minister Muswere should not be “harassing” a CEO with liberation war credentials.

Bemused officials have been left wondering how their colleague came to be aware of the letter; could it be he was part of the writing of it?

CEO contract row

As for why this ambitious two-some are rallying to the CEO’s defence; first they want to continue hogging the limelight in the public media. But, and more importantly, there are some skeletons now in the wrong cupboards since one of the pair was moved. The extract below authorising a salary for Cde Mozambique well above Government’s own guidelines gives you part of the context;

To their credit, the parastatal’s Board formally registered its opposition to the salary package.

The Watcher is also in possession of an audio recording of a meeting with Ministry officials where Board members expressed concern over the CEO’s recruitment process and remuneration package.

First though, let’s deal with liberation struggle credentials by which Cde Mozambique reckons they should be untouchable until their unkempt wig turns grey! Did Cde Mozambique fire a gun – even in anger – during the war of independence? Hell NO!

Turns out Cde Mozambique did not do any fighting; the association with the struggle is by way of copulation! Cde Mozambique was born in Mozambique’s Tete Province of war cadre parents. And the birthing did not happen at the height of the struggle; according to an article published by the Sunday Mail, Cde Mozambique was born in 1980 … when no war was being fought; it was over by then!

Former staff at the parastatal smirked at this latter revelation; Cde Mozambique must not get over themselves, quipped one. The good Cde needs reminding that a whole commander of the liberation struggle was once removed without ceremony from same job; what more a mere child of struggle fighters … and one born when the war was finished?

Sleeping with shoes-on

But let’s move on; two questions naturally arise from this letter debacle; why is Cde Mozambique panicking and, is Minister Muswere really victimising and harassing the cadre?

A bit of context first; traditionally, a new ministerial appointment is followed by Board and senior management changes at Stated-owned enterprises; and this makes sense because, really, one should be allowed to hunt with their own dogs.

So, a new minister necessarily causes anxiety and a sleeping with the shoes-on for senior parastatal management. However, beyond tradition, the state of affairs at the parastatal in question is calamitous and Minister Muswere has – as indeed he must – been asking some hard questions of the leadership at the organisation.

More importantly though, the Ministerial change at Information left Cde Mozambique’s bottom rather indecently exposed due to a number of issues which The Watcher will only deal with briefly in this instalment.

To start with, the CEO’s appointment was controversial and left the parastatal’s Board terribly divided and effectively dysfunctional. A section of the Board argued (and still does) that they were not involved in the appointment as they did not conduct any interviews with the candidate. See extract below;

Now – and to be fair, perhaps – Ministers ignore process and make impositions in respect of CEO appointments at their parastatals; it may be irregular, but it’s not uncommon.

Even so, in the case of Cde Mozambique, the irregularities did not end there, which caused further rifts on the Board; the bitter divisions only later calmed by the then Minister threatening a summary dismissal of the dissenters.

First, Cde Mozambique reportedly claimed relocation allowance from the new employer to help move their stuff from the town where they used to work, a development some Board members argued to be highly irregular.

Second, Government regulates the remuneration packages of senior management at Parastatals through its Corporate governance unit.

But the then Minister went on to authorise a reward package well beyond Corporate Governance Unit (CGU) guidelines including payment of fees at expensive private schools for Cde Mozambique’s children.

Dissenting Board members argued that the CEO of a grant-dependent institution – in terms of the CGU guidelines – is only entitled to a Toyota Fortuner-level vehicle, but the Ministry went on to facilitate the acquisition of a Toyota Prado, even as the corporation does not have operational vehicles for staff.

Now, and quite apart from the recruitment and package outrages facilitated under the former Minister, Cde Mozambique is said to have gone on to perpetrate and perform their own spectacular and unruly mischiefs since they took over the job.

In one example shared with The Watcher, Cde Mozambique is said to love globe-trotting; regularly attending all manner of often obscure meetings and events; during one such trip – they reportedly totted up a mobile phone roaming bill of US$6,000 which has still not been paid.

Staff have also repeatedly registered a raft grievances only to be dismissed as opposition activists by Cde Mozambique’s protectors on the Board. One letter they have written before highlights some of these issues;

“There is a lot of eh … shall we say … pending issues with Cde Mozambique,” quipped an associate of The Watcher who knows the details and the full extent of the rot.

So, what happens next; you might ask dear reader?

Well, the term of office for the current Board at the parastatal had expired just before the just-ended elections and was extended to this coming December; the short extension being administratively advisable in the event there is a new minister who might want to appoint a different team.

But is Minister Muswere intimidated by Cde Mozambique’s shenanigans which are aided by the power hungry two-some? We just have to wait and see. But sources close to the developments said this to The Watcher; “The order of things is this … first a new Board and then new CEO; and the issue is being worked on with some urgency”.

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