Two senior executives at state-owned petroleum firm Petrotrade have gone to court to challenge their placement on “mandatory leave.
Cougan Matanhire, who is the firm’s chief operations officer (COO) and Nomsa Chitsaka, the business development director, were forced to go on “mandatory leave” by the company’s acting chief executive officer on 11 March 2022.
Matanhire said the Acting CEO summoned them to a meeting and told them they were suspended immediately claiming it was a directive via text message from the Ministry of Energy and Power Development’s permanent secretary Gloria Magombo.
The two are seeking an order which declares the respondent‘s directive “unlawful, null and void and of no force and effect.” Matanhire’s affidavit deposed with the High Court on 22 March 2022 reads in part:
Additionally, respondent is a state-owned entity with a critical role to play in the volatile energy sector. My role within the respondent’s operations is a critical one. Presently, I am not able to supervise the staff in my department or liaise with respondent’s suppliers and customers, who include, in the main, government departments and agencies, some of whom are responsible for the preservation of law and order in Zimbabwe.
It is not without exaggeration when I state that respondent’s operations will be plunged into inevitable chaos should this unlawful state of affairs persist. Only urgent relief from this honourable court can stall this.
Petrotrade is also in chaos after Energy minister Soda Zhemu suspended the Tinomudaishe Chinyoka-chaired board early this month pending investigations into what they called “corporate governance issues.
It has, however, emerged that the board members were suspended for allegedly opposing plans to sell Petrotrade and Genesis Energy to the Independent Petroleum Group (IPG) of Kuwait.
Petrotrade is being sold for less than US$20 million after an understated valuation that will prejudice the state while benefitting corrupt government facilitators.