Oliver Kazunga, Senior Business Reporter
GOVERNMENT has appointed the National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ) board member Mr Joseph Mashika as acting general manager with effect from August 1 as the parastatal moves towards restructuring of top management.

The appointment of Mr Mashika comes after NRZ general manager Engineer Lewis Mukwada has gone on leave pending early retirement by October 31 this year.

As the major shareholder, Government early this month directed the troubled parastatal’s board to restructure management by no later than October 31 in order to bring change as well as new vision and thrust.

Recently, Transport and Infrastructural Development Minister Joel Biggie Matiza expressed pleasure that the NRZ board, which is chaired by Advocate Martin Dinha has expeditiously implemented the Government directive to restructure the ailing parastatal.

“In this regard, the long-serving general manger Engineer Lewis Mukwada is now going on leave as per board’s decision effective 1 August 2020. Thus as the minister, I have endorsed the board’s decision to appointment Mr Mashika, a board member, to the acting general manager with a mandate to expeditiously bring on board a new management team that will revamp NRZ into a profit-making entity,” he said.

“Change by nature is both a threat and opportunity and must be carried out in an objective, professional and transparent manner taking both the interest and the future of the organisation and any affected workers or employees.

“Allow me to appreciate the amicable and speedy resolution of the early retirement of the general manager Eng Mukwada which my ministry directed and sanctioned. We wish the general manager well as he retires from long service at NRZ.”

Eng Mukwada has served NRZ for more than 30 years at various capacities and was appointed general manager in 2016 following the death of Retired Air Commodore Mike Karakadzai in 2013.

The strategic entity, which requires US$1,9 billion in the medium to long-term to recapitalise operations last year moved 2,8 million tonnes of cargo against a target of 4,2 million.

At its peak in the 1990s, NRZ which has an installed capacity of 18 million tonnes annually, transported 14,4 million tonnes.

Of late, it has been reported that the parastatal’s efficiency and capacity has majorly been affected by impropriety and maladministration.

Minister Matiza challenged the incumbent management to ensure NRZ achieves the desired vision in line with making railway an affordable, efficient modern day mode of transport.

In line with cost-cutting measure on unnecessary beaucracy and lethargy and infusion of a new work culture of efficiency to improve productivity and service delivery, he said the top-heavy management team of directors will soon be replaced with leaner structure.

Minister Matiza said Government aims to attain an upper middle income economy status by 2030 as envisioned by President Mnangagwa under the new dispensation.

“Consequent to the foregoing in terms of the country’s Vision 2030 NRZ is expected to play a crucial role as a socio-economic enabler for the country. In this regard, the board and management need to refocus attention to the country’s national aspirations.

“On its part Government has committed itself to support the NRZ and facilitate flawless performance of its function. In this regard, Government remains focused on the recapitalisation of the organisation to enable it to perform the above role,” said Minister Matiza.

He said Government has formally cancelled the US$400 million recapitalisation deal NRZ signed with Diaspora Infrastructure Development Group (DIDG)/Transnet consortium in 2017.

The Minister said Government was now proceeding to invite and engage other suitors to recapitalise NRZ in order to give it impetus to revamp capacity, rehabilitate infrastructure and modernise its fleet.

The NRZ rehabilitation programme among other critical works entails revamping of rolling stock and installation of traffic signals. — @okazunga