Saturday, January 30, 2010
By Chiwoyu Sinyangwe
Sat 30 Jan. 2010, 04:01 CAT
ZESCO acting managing director Cyprian Chitundu has been fired on instigation from energy minister Kenneth Konga. And Chitundu confirmed the development yesterday but refused to comment on the matter, referring all queries to the board chairman.
But newly appointed Zesco board chairman Kwalela Lamaswala referred all queries to the Zesco company secretary.
According to highly-placed sources within Zesco, the decision to fire Chitundu was arrived at during the board meeting held on Thursday after 17:00 hours.
The sources said Konga did not favour Chitundu to take over the running of the state-power utility as he favoured someone who would be easy to deliver campaign money to the MMD in next year's elections.
“It is believed that the Honourable minister is favouring Mr Raphael Mupwaya, the head of Lusaka division, to take over the position from Mr Chitundu,” the source said.
“But the thing is when Mr Lamaswala was appointed as Zesco board chairman, he promised that he was going to seek instruction from Mr Konga before convening a board to spell how he was going to run things… apart from the meeting where he was unveiled as the chairman, this was the first meeting he chaired and he announced the dismissal of Mr Chitundu. What we were told during the meeting was that Mr Chitundu's contract as chief operations officer was terminated and subsequently, his position as acting MD.”
The sources said there was a split among the board members with one group headed by Rhoda Mayondi favouring the decision while another group headed by Professor Joy Mwenechanya opposing the decision.
“But like I have told you, even those who opposed the decision, there was nothing they could do because Mr Lamaswala was merely implementing the instruction from Honourable Konga,” the source said.
The sources explained that Konga was agitated by the continued demand by the Zesco workers unions who this week wanted to petition Vice-President George Kunda over Chitundu's position in Zesco.
“It's like the minister called the unions and met them in the presence of labour minister Honourable Austin Liato on Tuesday and pleaded with them that Chitundu was not the right man for the job but the unions told him that 'look minister, things are now improving, so why can't you see it that way?'”
And Chitundu confirmed the development but refused to comment on the matter.
“What can I say? No…I can't comment on that matter…I am now a private citizen…but we parted company with the corporation,” said Chitundu.
When contacted for comment, Lamaswala referred all queries to Zesco company secretary.
“Get in touch with company secretary for a comprehensive statement so that you do not speculate,” said Lamaswala.
Asked if he dismissed Chitundu on instruction from Konga, Malaswala responded: “Well you are entitled to your opinion…you are entitled to your sources.”
Efforts to get comment from Konga proved futile as his mobile phone went unanswered.
Recently, the government appointed Dr Lemba Nyirenda as Zesco managing director but relieved him of his duties after a short period on grounds that the board had failed to reach consensus on his conditions of service. Chitundu was then appointed as acting managing director until now. The advertisement for the position of Zesco managing director is currently running in the media.