Letters to Editor

The scandalous appointment of Sydney Gata as ZESA Executive Chairman Part 1

By Concerned Citizen and Former ZESA Board Member

I address this write up to all the people of Zimbabwe who abhor corruption, impunity and lawlessness. I also address Honourable F. Chasi the man at the centre of the scandal.

Recently we woke up to the news that Dr Sydney Gata had been appointed the Executive Chairman of ZESA Holdings.

This appointment is most unfortunate and scandalous for the following reasons;

1) Sydney Gata has previously been appointed to head ZESA as its first black Chief Executive Officer but then known as General Manager. He was dismissed from that position around 1994 or 95 thereabout after a commission of inquiry headed by Justice Smith ( Rtd) made a finding that he was unfit to hold the position of Chief executive officer.

The report by Justice Smith made some serious and damning findings on the way Gata was running the affairs of ZESA. This left the then Minister of Energy Herbert Ushewokunze with no choice but to fire Gata (I implore Chasi to urgently look for that commission of inquiry report and read it for the sake of his legacy)

2) ln the year 2000 Sydney Gata bounced back as Executive Chairman of Zesa and oversaw the unbundling of ZESA into the entity that it currently is. In 2006, General Nyambuya (Rtd) the then Minister of Energy, fired or relieved Gata of his position as Executive Chairman after he became disillusioned at the manner Gata was running ZESA. What is clear here and important to note is that on both occasions or stints Dr Gata left ZESA unceremoniously.

3) What boggles the mind is that Chasi has again appointed the very same person who spearheaded the unbundling of ZESA to again rebundle it. Dr Gata is now 73 years old and surely is he the only person in the whole of Zimbabwe suitable to head ZESA? What new ideas would he bring at such an old age that he failed to bring during his other 2 stints?

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ZESA is currently embroiled in a corruption scandal involving almost half of its Senior management. How then is a man deemed through a commission of inquiry report to be unsuitable to head ZESA, be the very person appointed to clean up ZESA?

4) Most importantly Chasi should also explain to the people of Zimbabwe in terms of which law did he appoint Sydney Gata as Executive Chairman? The Public Entities and Corporate Governance Act chapter 10:31 does not provide for the appointment of an Executive Chairman.

In fact what chasi has done is to tear to shreds this noble piece of legislation, which coincidentally was only promulgated into law in 2018, after much pomp and fanfare albeit after a lot of money and time were spent on research and outreach programs.

Suffice to say that the Act is very clear as it provides for the appointment of a non-Executive Chairman. The Act also provides that it is the Board’s responsibility to appoint a CEO subject to approval by the President. An Executive Chairman is a CEO and Board Chairman put into one.

Such a scenario is very undesirable in terms of good Corporate Governance for the simple reason that to whom does the Executive Chairman account to when he is both CEO and Board Chairman.

If for example, he is presenting his operations report to the Board as CEO, is he not actually reporting to himself since he both Board Chairman and CEO? Clearly that’s the mischief that the Public Entities Corporate Governance Act sought to address.

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Sadly, Chasi a respected lawyer who came into Government as a voice of reason and common sense now seems to have turned rogue and has put political considerations above reason and the law.

5) Again in terms of the same Act, Dr Gata is not eligible for appointment as CEO or Executive since he has already served two terms totalling over 10 years in the capacity of CEO ( please note that an Executive Chairman is simply a CEO who also doubles up as Chairman of the Board) So clearly in terms of the law Dr Gata should not have been considered for appointment .

The question that begs an answer is why therefore has Chasi thrown all caution to the wind and in clear disregard to the law appoint Dr Gata? Furthermore, why did the President a lawyer himself approve such an unlawful appointment that goes against the very statutes that he and his Government are duty-bound to observe and enforce?

Part 2 will attempt to answer that question but what is crystal clear is that Dr Gata’s appointment is nothing short of scandalous and unlawful.

ln conclusion the law does not provide for the appointment of an Executive Chairman in a public entity neither does Chasi have the powers to appoint one.

Someone must surely be held to account for such flagrant disregard of the law and that person is Chasi, as Minister the buck stops with him.

  • Concerned Citizen and Former ZESA Board Member.
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