Report by News Editor, Nigel Pfunde
Mobile Network Operator (MNO) Telecel Zimbabwe chief executive Angeline Vere was involved in a car accident on Sunday and she escaped unscathed , Zim Morning Post can reveal.
Ironically, the life threatening incident did not derive sorrow from her staffers but in fact opened a can of worms into the alleged dubious acquisition of a Toyota Prado 2019 that she was driving at the time of the accident.
Employees and stakeholders came out guns blazing against Vere for purchasing the $1Million dollar vehicle in unclear circumstances at a time the company was lamenting over decrease in revenue and reeling on perennial poor performance as a result of management’s extravagance.
“The ministry of ICT held a funding meeting where Vere and finance director Mr Chinake were present.
“Telecel was the key highlight of discussion with their performance commentary centered on lack of funding as a justification for the company’s poor performance, yet just the previous month Vere purchased a 2019 Toyota Land Cruiser Prado worth US$250 000 and imported from Soutrh Africa paid from Telecel’s nostro account .
“The company’s buildings were used as collateral at a loan extended from a local bank,” revealed our impeccable source.
“This makes you question some of the decisions the board chair Makamba and Vere are making are in the best interest of Telecel or for self enrichment.
“Minister Kazembe Kazembe must intervene,” he added.
She was accused of buying the top of the range vehicle without board approval and employees were bitter.
Deafening calls for Vere’s ouster have been echoing for a prolonged period forcing board members to clash.
Some members drew swords against Vere on allegations of turning the mobile telecommunications company into a loss-making entity since taking over the reins in 2015.
Government assumed a controlling stake in Telecel after buying a 60 percent stake in 2016.
Vere’s nemesis backed their ouster calls on basis that she failed to uphold her fiduciary duties and failed to produce audited financial statements through the five-year period through 2018.
However, the Telecel ‘iron lady’ scoffed at the allegations and said her mandate is to report to the board and subsequently the regulatory authority (POTRAZ) and she has never diverted from such.
‘Well, first and foremost I do not report to staffers and have no obligation to be their buddies.
“I report to the board and they approved the purchase of that vehicle.
“Where did your source get that us$2 million figure, I was entitled to that car and I was supposed to buy a car worth $US150 000 but I bought a cheaper one for US$95 000 last year around October.
“So they were celebrating my accident, they wanted to see me die?
“Staffers do not know the terms of my contract and if they push for salary increase there are proper channels not the Press
“As for financial audit report check with Potraz,” said Vere.
The board chair James Makamba could neither confirm nor deny whether the board approved the pricey buy at a time the company’s coffers were low.
He wanted a ‘barter trade’ of information.
“Well, you want me to help you and yet you do not want to give me the names of your source.
“In that case, I will not comment,” he said despite a spirited attempt by the reporter to refresh his mind on journalism ethics (non disclosure of sources) given his background as a veteran broadcaster of repute.
Impeccable sources told Zim Morning Post that Vere is perceived as Makamba’s ‘blue eyed girl’ hence her unpopularity with staffers, stakeholders and some board members.
The fissures are said to have widened when early this year, after his return from self imposed exile, Makamba moved to suspend board member and ex-CEO Mr Francis Mawindi for allegedly leaking confidential company information.
It is believed that Mr Mawindi has been persistently raising the flag over Vere’s alleged failure to adhere to prudential management practices and unilaterally making questionable decisions, which had negative connotations on the company’s finances, without seeking board approval.
However, in an email to board members dated 3 September 2018, Vere said the company had failed to implement its turnaround strategies after failing to secure a US$5 million loan for the exercise.
On Tuesday, Vere told this reporter that she must not be persecuted for Mawindi’s dismissal since she had no hand in it.
“I was not involved in Mr Mawindi’d dismissal and it’s a shame for anyone to demonise me for that.
“He was appointed by government, I did not appoint him so how would I fire him,” she asked rhetorically.
Sources said Telecel was being run by ‘three musketeers’ namely Vere, finance director Ezra Chinake and Obert Mandimika.
“In my interaction with Telecel as a stakeholder for years, I have noted that this company is run by three people Chinake, Vere and Mandimika.
“For an organization as big as that its unhealthy to concentrate power and decisions only to a handful of people,” said our source.
Telecel’s procurement methods were also under scrutiny with allegations that the company is now procuring services without an appraisal from the company’s technical department — which has been rendered invalid — which essentially compromises the quality of works that would been contracted.