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Storm at NRZ: Workers accuse GM of corruption and nepotism

…petition Ministers, Parly and ZANU PF

BARELY six months after taking over as National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ) substantive General Manager, Respina Zinyanduko is reportedly wreaking havoc at the state parastatal, in the process dismissing over 400 workers including senior managers “on fictitious allegations” and replacing them with her relatives.

The senior managers who were dismissed include Chief Engineer Phillip Chifamba, Acting Procurement Manager Aziz Mwale and Public Relations Manager Nyasha Maravanyika.

The General Manager who has also hogged the limelight for “winning manager of the year award” is accused of gross corruption and nepotism.

CITE is in possession of various letters written by the disgruntled workers petitioning, Minister of Transport and Infrastructural Development Felix Mhona, Bulawayo Minister of State for Provincial Affairs and Devolution in Bulawayo Judith Ncube, NRZ Board Chairman, Martin Dinha, Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Transport and Bulawayo ZANU PF provincial Chairman Jabulani Sibanda, to rescue them and reign in the General Manager.

In these letters, workers complain of victimization, corruption and nepotism they have suffered and witnessed since Zinyanduko took over as the General Manager.

The workers allege massive corruption by Zinyanduko in the manner she handled the renovation of her company official residence, Broadway House, 56 Pauling Road, Suburbs in Bulawayo.

They specifically accuse her of cancelling tender processes for the guest house renovation, where she allegedly handpicked her preferred company, Praise Construction, from Harare to do the work.

“It is shocking that there is no budget for this huge project, it is just an open cheque. The office of the General Manager is now the procurement department for the NRZ on this project as well as the Executor. 

“Current NRZ instruction is to pay local services in ZW$ (local currency) but all the works and services at this project are paid in USD and in some instances, hard USD cash is used like US$3993.00 ‘for some labour’,” read one of the letters.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, an NRZ employee said regarding the guest house residence renovations: 

“Quotations were sourced from suppliers that are not on NRZ Standing (Suppliers) list and have not done any business with NRZ before and NRZ Procurement department was not approached for guidance. 

“Prices were terribly inflated for instance building/quarry stone that costs US$24.36 per cubic meter at Davis Granite was charged US$86.25per cubic meter by Percocet and sourced all the way from Harare at the expense of NRZ,” said the source.

This source further stated that the Harare company, Praise Construction, which was handpicked to do the guest house renovations, “shows that it had done construction projects with Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management.

“General Manager and the Procurement Manager have both worked for Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management before joining NRZ. This dovetails that there was collusion between the General Manager, Procurement Manager and Praise Construction Company”.

Zinyanduko is also accused of preferring companies outside NRZ standing supplies list to supply building material for the renovations.

“Supply of building material and Labour: US$9 981.75 paid to Percocet Investments (Pvt) Ltd and the quotations were directed to the General Manager’s office and NRZ procurement department was not approached for guidance,” said the source.

Contacted for comment, Zinyanduko dismissed the accusations stating that only 56 workers were dismissed and labour processes were followed.

“All cases are thoroughly investigated and prosecuted. The labour laws will not allow dismissals of employees who are innocent unless you are saying those who steal from the company should be left alone.

“For the whole of 2021 we had 56 dismissals majority of which were related to the theft of wagons loaded with brake blocks in Gweru,” she said.

She also rejected the accusation that she was involved in the renovation of the company house.

However, in the letters to the Government ministers, Portfolio Committee and the ZANU PF Chairman, the disgruntled workers pleaded for urgent intervention stating that Zinyanduko was on the brink of collapsing the once giant parastatal.

Writing to Minister Mhona and Parliamentary Committee on Transport workers accused the general manager of nepotism, they wrote: 

“She employed her brother, Shepherd Mukanga as her driver despite the fact that there were service drivers like Muguti available. She corruptly changed the grade of the driver from B4 to C4 to make her brother happy. 

“She also fired the Supplies Manager so that she can employ her other brother, Ephraim Gwaindepi as the Procurement Manager. We are made to understand that procedure was not followed in the employment of the Procurement Manager. 

She also employed her brother-in-law Chananukwa as an Executive Driver. She also appointed her friend Joseph Temayi as an Assistant General Manager. 

“She recently fired Eng. Chifamba after falsely accusing him of doing wrong things, whilst she is the one who instructed him to do the things on the construction of 242 Guest House.

“She also fired (Nyasha) Maravanyika because he was the only person who could tell her the truth,” read the letters.

Another letter to ZANU PF Bulawayo Chairman Sibanda workers revealed that Zinyanduko was bragging that local political leaders were under her control.

“Baba Sibanda okusicaphulayo yikuthi ngemva komhlangano owaba lawo loRespina Zinyanduko, usehamba esithi wena ungumuntu wakhe njalo ukulungisela ukuthi udle lapha koLoliwe. (What annoys us Mr Sibanda is that following your meeting with Respina Zinyanduka, she is going around bragging that she is preparing an opportunity for you to benefit from NRZ)

“Besisithi sikwazise ukuthi ibizo lakho liyangcoliswa mhlonitshwa wena mhlakumbe unga kwazi. Okunye uthi yena she can summon you, she can’t have a meeting with you in your dirty offices. Uyakululazisa umama lo. (We are just alerting you that your name is being tarnished maybe you don’t know.),” read part of the letter to Mr Sibanda.

They also petitioned Bulawayo Provincial Minister Ncube to use her office to mediate and resolve tribalism, nepotism and victimisation they are experiencing at the hands of Zishanduko.

“Wabumba iVIP security unit yakhe. Usehamba ephahlwe ngamabody guards oRunhare, labanye abadobha ekhaya kibo eBikita. Amabody guards akhe ahola imali edlula amaEngineers lama managers. URespina uzama ukususa iHeadquarters ye NRZ ayifake eHarare. (She has created a parallel security unit comprising of people from her rural home in Bikita. They earn more than Engineers and managers. Respina is trying to move NRZ headquarters to Harare)

“UProcurement manager Gwaindepi yisihlobo sakhe, finance ufuna ukufaka uManyimo, kuAudit kule Sihlobo sakhe uSukwe and Security kulo Runhare isihlobo sakhe. (Procurement manager Gwaindepi is her relative, in the finance department she wants to put Manyimo and within the Audit, there is Sukwe her relative and Runhare in security her relative as well),” read the letter.

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