Massive job cuts loom at Zesa

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Mr Mbiriri

Audit report observes duplication of tasks
Subsidiaries to be consolidated

Martin Kadzere
Several executives and senior managers at Zesa Holdings are set to become jobless if the proposals made by an independent consultant on the cost structure of the power utility are adopted and implemented, officials privy to the development said.

The report, which was commissioned by the Zimbabwe Energy Regulatory Authority was completed a few months ago, but is yet to be officially submitted to the Government, Energy and Power Development permanent secretary Partson Mbiriri said.

Sources told Business Weekly that the report largely provided advice on improving efficiency of the power utility through eliminating the duplication of managerial and non-managerial roles by collapsing the existing subsidiaries and replacing them with departments.

This would lead to the re-bundling of Zesa Holdings to its original structure until the late 90s.

The restructuring of Zesa saw formation of subsidiaries — The Zimbabwe Power Company, the electricity generation arm — the Zimbabwe Electricity and Distribution Company, Zent and information technology and communication firm Powertel.

The shifting of divisions into separate subsidiaries was meant to help management of the group easier.

“The report was presented to the management of the holding company and subsidiaries and what came out clear was that there is need to bundle the subsidiaries and come up with a single organisational structure. What it means is they would be one CEO with managing directors of subsidiaries becoming heads of divisions.

“This also means that other management functions of the subsidiaries such as human resources, finance and operations would also be collapsed. A lot of redundancy was also observed, largely resulting from improved technology.

“This will affect mostly technical; the non-managerial staff. So basically, those were critical issues that were presented during the meeting. However, it is important to note that these were just recommendations and it’s up to shareholders to implement or to ignore.”

Mbiriri told Business Weekly that the audit report had already been completed, but could not discuss its contents because it was yet to be presented to Government.

“I hear the consultant has finished their plan on process and procedures for Zesa restructuring, but we are yet to get formal submission from Zesa, which commissioned the report,” he said.

From the presentation, the source said, the people who could lose their jobs “is very significant” while the savings would also be huge.

Energy and Power Development Minister Dr Samuel Undenge recently said while the Government made a decision to unbundle Zesa about one and half decades ago, chances of reverting to the old structure was likely to eliminate the inefficiencies largely resulting from duplication of functions and the roles.

“I think circumstances are now different and there is a talk that ZESA is top heavy and we should look at the cost structure,” Dr Undenge recently said.

“Nothing is permanent and things change. You can unbundle today perhaps 20 years to come you go back to the old situation depending on the dynamics. A report is going to be submitted to me, then I will present it to Cabinet,” said Minister Undenge.

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