Telecel saga a national disgrace

The confusion going on at Telecel is the last thing that Zimbabwe needs at the moment. Given that our government is committed to the Indigenization and Economic Empowerment programme, it is such a shame that prominent organizations and individuals are totally consumed by narrow interests that unfortunately are destroying a huge asset needlessly.

\n

By Dr Davison Gomo

\n

Telecel

\n

The history of the Empowerment Corporation is littered with endless conspiracies, lack of strategic policy and direction in terms of fair and honest representation of the ordinary members by the so called representative groups.

\n

One of the biggest problems emanates from the fact that Empowerment Corporation has never been accountable to its constituency and this directly reflects the absence of corporate governance issues in member organisations, particularly those that draw their existence from mass membership.

\n

If in fact the idea was to empower member based organisations, there should have never been room for organisations that were or are owned by individuals such as Kestrel Corporation etc., particularly if such organisations were not bringing any unique skill or contribution to the company. IEG came in as a Technical Partner and thus understandable if one considers the nature and type of business that telecoms is.

\n

Right from the word go, there is clear and demonstrable evidence that a project that was started to benefit the majority was slowly taken over by individuals and it is unfortunate that at every turn when some of these dubious decisions were taken, there was no consultation with the members of these organisations.

\n

As soon as the member organisations allowed themselves to be dominated by their leadership, they lost control of the project and anything after that is a reflection of the perennial board room fights that have now totally destroyed a company that had a lot of potential and could have been a good showcase of successful indigenization and economic empowerment.

\n

The current use of the law to protect illegality and perpetuate a skewed ownership of resources must not be allowed and it is on these rare occasions that government must step in to protect public policy and the ordinary people who have been cheated by rogue elements out of livelihoods. The war vets, small scale farmers, small scale miners, women and the ordinary public that would have stood to gain immensely if the Empowerment Corporation did not deviate from its original objective can only watch from afar while their company is up in smoke.

\n

The offer by Brainworks Capital Management represented the most sensible move to date but it is now doubtful if this will ever work given that two individuals who claim to own the majority shares are working at cross purposes with the majority members of the Empowerment Corporation.

\n

Government must intervene to resolve this madness before it discredits the Empowerment programme beyond repair. What is going on now clearly vindicates arguments by a minority view that empowerment seems to work well for the rich and well connected. Although that might be the case, the reality is that thus not the position of the law and policy. Empowerment remains driven by a broad based approach and a lot of work has been done in this regard. The Telecel case must not be allowed to derail an otherwise progressive programme.

\n

An investigation into the affairs of the Empowerment Corporation might help to reveal the unorthodox methods that were used to elbow other organisations out and indeed, how some had their shareholding reduced. If there are new organisations that now hold shares in Empowerment Corporation, there might be need to justify how such organisations got in and whether the move was in compliance with the law?

\n

There is need to put an end to this before it causes a lot of damage to the empowerment movement apart from bringing government policy into disrepute.

\n

The country is bigger than individuals and no one should be allowed to bring suffering to the majority in the name of contestable legal rights.

\n

*Dr Davison Gomo is the chief executive officer of the Affirmative Action Group