By Tererai Karimakwenda
SW Radio Africa
06 February, 2014
A business consultant hired by a subsidiary of Zimbabwe’s power authority, ZESA, has joined the list of executives reported to be receiving exorbitant salaries at state institutions, with a monthly salary of $44,000.
Dennis Magaya, who is described as a “business strategy consultant”, was hired by ZESA subsidiary Powertel Communications in 2012, under controversial circumstances according to the Financial Gazette. His contract expires in 2015.
The paper said Magaya was engaged to implement a five-year business plan that he had drafted for Powertel, which is a state-owned internet services provider. But his contract was “fast tracked” by ZESA group chief executive officer Josh Chifamba and board chairman Francis Chirimuuta, “in clear defiance” of a State Procurement Board (SPB) resolution.
SPB had reportedly decided Magaya and his company Rubiem Technologies, could not be hired to implement the strategic plan which he had drafted as there would be a conflict of interest.
But the ZESA chefs ignored this and hired Magaya in his individual capacity, insisting Powertel would benefit from and make millions of dollars from the services provided by his company.
In addition, Powertel’s former finance director Warner Mtisi and former managing director Samuel Maminimini, were both sacked by Powertel after they questioned Magaya’s hefty package and resisted efforts to hire him.
Mtisi took legal steps and reportedly won his case at the labour courts, but Chifamba is believed to have appealed against the court ruling.
Political commentator Lameck Mahachi described Magaya’s salary at Powertel as “absurd”, especially given that ZESA itself was failing to provide enough electricity to Zimbabweans and was in debt.
“It appears everyone is on the bandwagon. It’s a culture of looting and everybody wants to loot. This is really absurd. Everyone knows that Zimbabwe is on its knees economically. How can they pay someone that kind of salary?” Mahachi told SW Radio Africa.
He added: “ZESA is failing to provide power to the people. Blackouts are happening all the time and we know ZESA owes huge sums of money. They can’t afford to pay anyone $44,000 monthly. This is unacceptable and calls for making noise. How can we be quiet?”
Mahachi said senior executives running parastatals were backing each other’s salaries and bonuses because they also stand to gain financially from their decisions, regardless of the fact that they may be illegal.
Magaya joins a growing list of executives recently exposed for looting state-run institutions that are in debt. The list includes Cuthbert Dube, the CEO who made $500,000 a month at the Premier Services Medical Aid Society, and suspended ZBC boss Happison Muchechetere, who looted over $40,000 per month while ordinary staff went without wages for the last 7 months.