Cairns Foods (Cairns) chief executive officer Nancy Guzha’s job is on the line as it emerged her relationship with major shareholder, Takura Capital Partners (Takura), has turned sour.
Her fate is in the hands of the company’s shareholders, who are soon expected to make a formal announcement on the matter.
Guzha has been at the helm of the food processing firm after it came out of the woods with a fresh capital injection from Takura, which saw a reduction in operating costs through staff rationalisation and catering for the firms’ immediate short-term funding needs.
The recent rebound had been preceded by judicial management that was headed by Grant Thornton and Camelsa’s Reggie Saruchera from November 2012 to 2015.
However, sources within the group told the Business Weekly that there is a mismatch between figures reported on the company’s books and reality.
The situation on the ground, the sources said, remains precarious, leading to fears management could be fiddling with books of accounts.
Guzha – who was previously at Unilever Zimbabwe and left under controversial circumstances – confirmed she was leaving her current post, but claimed it was only to assume a different role in the group.
She flatly denied claims she had been shown the exit door.
“There’s zero merit to that (being fired), there is no truth. I am assuming a different role within the group, I am still very much in the group,” she said yesterday in a telephone interview before referring all questions to the Cairns board chair.
Guzha, however, requested that the questions still be sent through her, but was quick to note that it would be difficult to get responses before going to print and indeed the responses were not yet in by the time of going to print yesterday.
“It’s the holidays, I am not sure if the responses are able to come quickly,” she said.
But sources close to the group insisted that Takura Capital ran out of patience with Guzha and resolved to replace her.
“She has had a fallout with shareholders due to a number of allegations that she is failing to explain satisfactorily,” revealed a source that requested not to be named.
“There are genuine fears that the company is slowly sliding back into the red zone, which previously led to judicial management, but then the unfortunate part is on its books, the company is seemingly doing well.
“Then there is also the ill-fated awarding of a Human Resource consultancy contract to Alpha Labour Brokers, which ended up in the courts after the later failed to honour its obligations to contract workers,” said the source who declined to be named.
In an interview with our sister paper, The Herald Business, in November, Guzha confirmed that there had been some issues with regards to the Human Resource contract but absolved Cairns of any wrong doing in the matter.
“(The company) was procedurally awarded a contract (via our multidisciplinary Procurement Committee) with Cairns Foods in April of this year, having checked with references in the market,” Guzha told The Herald Business in November.
“It later came to our attention that they were not timeously paying the labour that they had availed to Cairns, at which point their contract with Cairns Foods was cancelled. We are unaware of any relationship between (the former consultant and the current) save that (a director with the former) is their (current consultant) former employee,” she said then.
One of Zimbabwe’s major food processors having commenced operations in 1947, Cairns went off the rails after the country adopted a multi-currency regime ,which saw the company being weighed down by a $10 million debt that later pushed them into judiciary management in 2012.