Energy and Power Development Minister Fortune Chasi has defended the re-appointment of the late former president Robert Mugabe’s brother-in-law, Dr Sydney Zukuzo Gata, who was fired from ZESA in 2006.
The decision is said to have triggered controversy with some saying Gata should not have been taken back since he was dismissed for incompetence.
In his defence, however, Chasi said his decision was informed by a need to bring somebody with a clearer and thorough understanding of goings on at the power utility.
Dr Gata has previously served as both chief executive and executive chairman of the power utility.
Gata's re-appointment comes at a time when ZESA is faced with a myriad of challenges that have resulted in crippling power outages, as a step backwards.
In an interview on the sidelines of his inaugural meeting with the 10-member board, Minister Chasi lept to Dr Gata’s defence, describing him as the best man for the job given the existing challenges at the power company.
“What has informed my decision is that I need somebody who has a very clear and thorough understanding of the workings of ZESA and I found that in Dr Gata,” said Minister Chasi.
“I also needed somebody who will break the barriers, who is not bureaucratic, who understands and is current regarding what Government is looking at with regards to Zesa.
“Somebody who is fast-paced who has the energy to deal with the myriad of issues that are at Zesa. An ordinary chairman would not be able to do this,” he said.
There has also been questions over the role of executive chairman position, which Dr Gata is taking up with some saying it is a slap in the face of good corporate governance. The role, market watchers say, negates the tenets of good corporate governance as it does not provide for the much-needed board to execute management checks and balances.
To this end, Minister Chasi said he accepts the board should be separated from the executive but said ZESA’s dire circumstances require a present chairman who can attend to issues and that in future Government will reconsider if there is need to continue with an executive chairman.
“I accept that in general terms the role of the chairman and the executive must be separated but even the law recognises that there are circumstances where the two roles can be combined.
“I believe that the position of our country at the moment, with regards to power, requires that you have somebody who is in situ on a day to day basis and if you have somebody who has the experience and knowledge of the organisation, why should we double the expenses by having a CEO and a chairman who will be doing basically the same thing except chairing the meeting.
“Having said that, it’s very important to say that as our situation improves, we will of course look at the need or necessity of the continued role of an executive chairman,” said Minister Chasi.