The appointment of Simba Chikore as the Chief Operations Officer at Air Zimbabwe has brought to the fore the need for transparency when recruiting for the government or state-owned enterprises, Transparency International Zimbabwe (TIZ) has said. Air Zimbabwe used to be a public entity in which the State had total control but due to economic hardships, there were attempts to privatise it or sell some of its stake to private investors.
“Any appointments to government or state-owned enterprises must be divorced from any semblance of cronyism, patronage or favouritism since these bodies serve the interest of the public and must be based on merit,” said Danai Mabuto, TIZ Legal Officer and Team Leader of the Advocacy and Legal Advice Centre (ALAC).
Without mentioning specific names, Mabuto said there were a number of suspicious appointments across state-owned enterprises whereby people with military backgrounds, for example, are seconded to senior posts and given managerial portfolios. Mabuto added that in instances where majority shareholders have strong connections to the ruling establishment, it brought the issue of transparency in job selection processes to question.
Section 3 (2) (g) of the Constitution emphasises the principles of transparency, accountability and integrity. Section 194 on basic values and principles governing public administration says in Subsection 1 (k) that employment, training and advancement practices must be based on merit, ability, objectivity, fairness, the equality and the inclusion of persons with disabilities; and the state must take measures including legislative measures to promote these values and principles.
In addition, Subsection 2 says the appointment of officers in all tiers of government including government institutions and agencies and government controlled entities and other public enterprises, must be made primarily on the basis of merit. TIZ said that candidates should be subjected to transparent interviewing processes manned by independent, impartial people with relevant skills to determine who lands the posts based on merit.
In the case of Simba Chikore, President Mugabe’s son-in-law, TIZ is challenging the Air Zimbabwe and the Transport minister, Joram Gumbo, to prove that Chikore was the most suitable candidate for the job and provide details regarding the selection process.
“That Gumbo insisted that everything was done above board and claimed that Chikore had vast experience in aviation is not enough. He needs to explain to the world and everyone who cares the type of experience in the aviation industry that he gained initially ostensibly from Air Zimbabwe and Qatar Airline. Being son-in-law to the head of state gives him an unfair advantage over other candidates, hence the need to explain and lay bare what his credentials are,” Mabuto said.
The appointment raised suspicion when in a similar high demanding appointment, Chikore’s brother, Derrick, was recently awarded a $200 million power tender at Dema although it has emerged that the selection was done with following laid down tendering procedures.
Another view was that if Chikore was a competent manager, it would be good for him to prove his mettle by seeking to turnaround the fortunes of Gushungo Holdings owned by the Mugabe family, which is currently facing serious financial problems and risks scaling down operations or closure.