Monday, April 29, 2013

Chirwa's demands surprise Katele
By Godfrey Chikumbi in Kawambwa and Henry Sinyangwe in Lusaka
Mon 29 Apr. 2013, 14:01 CAT

DR KATELE Kalumba says he is surprised that Professor Clive Chirwa made demands that were beyond what Zambia Railways could afford to give him, especially that the company has not been productive for many years.

And the Institute of Directors (IoD) says appointing boards after a chief executive officer has been employed is a recipe for anarchy in some institutions as reporting lines are distorted.

Dr Kalumba, a former foreign affairs minister in the MMD government, said Prof Chirwa did not come to Zambia to amass wealth but to sacrifice a little in order to resuscitate Zambia Railways Limited (ZRL).

Zambia Railways is pending investigations following accusations and counter-accusations of abuse and corruption by the board and Prof Chirwa.

The board and Prof Chirwa have since been suspended indefinitely, pending investigations by the Anti Corruption Commission.

A week ago, five former Zambia Railways board members alleged several illegal and unapproved actions by Prof Chirwa, including an alleged attempt to shift company headquarters to Lusaka, staying in an apartment that costs KR72,000 per month as well as appointing himself chair of the tender committee of Zambia Railways Limited.

But Prof Chirwa dismissed the allegations as nonsense, and, on the other hand, alleged that board officials were claiming allowances whenever they called for a meeting with the permanent secretary and the minister.

Dr Kalumba said Prof Chirwa's demands had portrayed him as someone who only wanted to benefit from Zambia instead of using his knowledge and skills to contribute to the development of his home country.

Dr Kalumba said he and many Zambians expected Prof Chirwa to make sacrifices as a Zambian.

He explained that Zambians respected Prof Chirwa's technical competence, which was why President Michael Sata asked for his contribution in rebuilding ZRL.

"I don't think President Sata made a mistake to appoint Professor Chirwa as Zambia Railways chief executive officer. He respected his technical competence and many Zambians expected him to make some sacrifice. We are a poor country; if we had money, we would have asked a foreigner to help us rejuvenate ZRL. He is a Zambian and not a foreigner who would not care about the demands," Dr Kalumba said.

"I'm told he was holding a very lucrative position as a consultant but I don't think he came home rather to be richer than he was before. He came to Zambia because he wanted to make some sacrifice."

He said it was wrong for Prof Chirwa to think he was doing Zambia a favour by accepting to work as chief executive of ZRL because he owed to Zambia whatever he is.

Dr Kalumba, who described Prof Chirwa as an intelligent and gifted man, said the suspended ZRL chief executive officer had a wrong approach to work and that made him create enemies if he had any.

"It's like we are pleading for him; it is not a question of doing Zambia a favour because Zambia has already done them a favour. It is for them to give back to Zambia. We are not pleading helplessly; we are saying 'dear fellow Zambians, give back to Zambia what Zambia has given you. Help your brothers and sisters'," said Dr Kalumba.

And IoD president Julu Simuule stated that he was concerned that some state-owned enterprises did not have boards up to now.

"The Institute of Directors of Zambia wishes to raise concern on what has transpired in the recent case of Zambia Railways…in relation to corporate governance, it is our strongly considered view that boards and managements in these state owned enterprises (SOEs) once constituted are fully inducted in good corporate governance. The pace at which this is done is quite critical for timely decision making and enabling those charged with governance duties appreciate their roles and responsibilities and hence effectively and appropriately discharge them," he stated.

"It is also a concern to us as IoDZ that some boards are appointed way after the chief executive officers have been appointed, thereby making reporting lines not clearly defined. There is also a greater need to develop respective board charters for all SOEs which set out the role, composition and responsibilities of the board of directors."
Simuule stated that timely appointment of independent and competent directors in such institutions should be put as top priority.

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