Zimbabwe Tourism Leadership gone and Chaos follows: Transcript of a resignation letter
Zimbabwe Tourism seems to be in freefall and a state of chaos. Minister of Tourism Prisca Mupfumira is in jail and is facing 40 years in prison. The Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA) Board Chairman and Director, Mr Osbourne Majuru resigned with immediate effect citing interference and bad governance by the Acting Chief Executive Officer. In addition, ZTA Board member Precious Nyika also stepped down.
Majuru revealed in his resignation letter dated 12 July 2019 to the Minister of Environment, Tourism and Hospitality Industry, Priscah Mupfumira, currently in jail, that ZTA Acting CEO, Ms Rita Likukuma had effectively rendered the board ineffective.
Today another Zimbabwe Tourism Authority Board Member, Precious Nyika, has resigned following the recent resignation of board chair Osbourne Majuru.
eTN obtained a transcript of the letter Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA) Board Chairman and Director, Mr Osbourne Majuru wrote to the minister on July 12.
Senator for Makonde, The Honourable Priscah Mupfumira
The Minister of Environment and Hospitality Industry
12th Floor, Kaguvi Building
Corner 4th Street and Central Avenue
Dear Honourable Minister
RESIGNATION AS ZIMBABWE TOURISM AUTHORITY BOARD CHAIRMAN
It is with deep regret that I write to advise you of my resignation as Director and Chairman of the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority Board. My resignation is with immediate effect. The main reason for my resignation is that I genuinely feel that the authority of the Board has been materially undermined especially following the appointment of the Acting Chief Executive, Mrs Rita Likukuma. Section 17.4 of the Zimbabwe Tourism Act clearly states that the Authority’s Chief Executive is subject to the direction and supervision of the Board. Section 18 further directs that “the Board (not the Chief Executive) reports to the Minister with regard to the operations, undertakings and activities of the Authority …. “.
Section 20 also provides that the Minister MAY give the Board (not the Chief Executive) directions on matters of POLICY (not operational matters) as he/she deems fit.
This arrangement worked perfectly when Dr Karikoga Kaseke was in office but unfortunately things changed when he became medically bed ridden. Honuorable Minister my view is that the authority of the ZTA Board has been undermined and significantly eroded to the point of rendering the Board ineffective.
The Acting CE no longer takes instructions from the Board but from your office. The ongoing Skills Audit project is a case in point. Your Board mandated management in its very first interaction at Meikles Hotel (following our appointment) to commission a Skills Audit. We reiterated this position at the inaugural Strategy Retreat and subsequent Board meetings.
I was surprised when the Acting CE gave myb oard Members less than 48 hours to give their comments on the Skills Audit report from the Consultants via round robin because she needed to report to the Minister (a Board function). The Board had waited for this Skills Audit report for months, and we suddenly had to deliberate and give a verdict on a very critical project involving the retrenchment of a sizeable number of employees some of whom have saved the Authority admirably over their working life.
As a Board we are responsible for the welfare of ZT A employees and we wanted to ensure that the rationalization plan was done with empathy and kindness. Last night she requested that I rubber stamp a press release on the staff rationalization and yet she has not given me a single update since our last Board meeting with regards to progress on the road map the Board gave management to follow in rolling out the Skills Audit implementation. There were parallel instructions from the Board and your office on the Medical Boarding of Dr. Karikoga Kaseke yet it is very clear in terms of Section 17.1 that the appointing authority for the Chief Executive position (subject to the Minister’s approval) is the Board, not the Minister or Cabinet.
We set up Team Tourism to create a coordinated platform for dealing with pressing industry issues. I tasked the Acting CE to set up a meeting to brainstorm on either sprucing up Harare International Airport departure and arrival halls or the Kariba airport. I gave her names of various CEOs whom I had talked to myself and had in turn committed to supporting the initiative. She never reported back to me once on the request despite numerous reminders. Lately, a Board Member Mr. Blessing Munyenyiwa offered us a venue in Hwange to hold the next Team Tourism retreat. We deliberated at length on this issue in our last Board and agreed that the theme for the Team Tourism retreat would be brainstorming on creating a Tourism Corridor in the Zambezi basin, covering Kariba, Victoria Falls and Hwange.
For example, what tax and other incentives can government offer potential investors to attract investment into this corridor? We tasked the Acting CE and her management to coordinate the retreat and she has never once reported back to the Board on it. The core problem Honourable Minister is that the Acting CE feels she is accountable and answerable to you and not the Board. She wrote to me stating that management is answerable to the Minister, which is contrary to the provisions of the ZTA Act as I pointed out earlier.
May I respectfully point out that these problems will persist with this Board and indeed future Boards for as long as your office is operationally involved in the functions of institutions/authorities that have their own Boards which ironically you yourself have appointed?
The ZTA Board is a Non -Executive Board (i.e. It is not an operational Board) and can only be efficient and effective in discharging its mandate if it has a strong working relationship with the CE and executive management. The most effective way to empower the ZTA Board is to ensure that the executive fully understands that they report to the Board and not the Minister.
May I thank you Honourable Minister for appointing me to this position to serve this beautiful country we all so love.
I will continue to serve quietly in the background for the benefit of our great and beautiful Zimbabwe.