Report by Bayethe Mhlanga
Bulawayo-The acting Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA) chief executive Rita Likukuma has opened up and categorically stated that she is not ready to take over as substantive chief executive since she has other pressing commitments and is “too busy’ to assume that post.
She has put to rest speculative reports alleging that she had ambitions to replace ailing Karikoga Kaseke in substantive capacity.
In an exclusive interview with Zim Morning Post here this week, Likukuma was very candid and did not meander in her responses.
“Replacing Kaseke (Karikoga) is not my call as I come in as a board member, if it came to it that he was not able, I think the board will be scanning for the kind of person of their choice and the rightful one and my only job will be to assist and say I now understand this business better,” she said.
“For me to take up the post will be a very difficult decision.
“ I am a very busy person, I have other commitments and we also have businesses that we run as a family and I think I will be overburdened.
“We also have to look at ourselves and our businesses as a family and say can we afford to sacrifice that much because you have other obligations and you must work to make sure that your business meets those obligations and you don’t want your empire to crumble,” she added.
She however said besides her family business commitments she also has an obligation to ensure that ZTA stays afloat in her capacity as the tourism authority’s board member.
“ As a board member you have the responsibility to see that ZTA doesn’t crumble and I think for the kind of operations that goes on there it was not difficult to fit in, but having said that we also have businesses to run,” she said.
This publication has it on good authority that the board was mooting to summon Kaseke to appear before the board of health assessment inquiry to ascertain whether he can still discharge his normal duties as CE.
In the event that the medical reports prove otherwise, Kaseke will be forced into early retirement on medical grounds.
Asked on reports of her unpopularity with staff members because of her inability to inspire confidence and address salary issues amidst the ballooning inflation rocking the country, Likukuma said her leadership style was in sync with the world’s best practice.
She said in relation to revenue generation, there was no basis of increasing salaries at ZTA.
”It is a responsibility of the board to address issues to do with salaries, at any board committee you have the Human resources committee which addresses issues like that in consultation with finance and audit committee which would be looking at the funds that are available.
“Normally what we say is that each business must justify its cost, and if the authority can justify an increment in salaries it is a no brainer, you really just need to justify that for the revenue that you are generating you ascertain that you are able to pay this much,” she said.
“What we cannot do in terms of corporate governance is to actually destroy organisations, at the end the end of the day our responsibility as the board is to make sure that the organisation continues to thrive and in thriving we look at the thriving of every stakeholder in that business including the shareholders creditors, staff, government which collects taxes.
“So there must be a fair distribution of the cake and when you choose to be fair at times you may not always please everyone, if one wants a bigger share of what they are supposed to get it may not be possible. As a board that is our responsibilities and we can live with being popular and being unpopular- but if I am not popular for reasons I can justify, eventually I will become very popular in the long run,” she said.
The ZTA is a corporate body responsible for tourism promotion, planning and development, research and the enforcement of standards and services. Its mandate is to manage and market Zimbabwe as a leading tourist destination in Africa and the world at large.