By Andrew Kunambura
FORMER NMBZ chief executive officer (CEO), James Mushore, has reportedly landed the position of town clerk for the City of Harare (CoH).
The ex-banker, who resigned from NMBZ last year, beat 139 other aspiring candidates who included current acting town clerk, Josephine Ncube, and former CoH urban planning director, Psychology Chiwanga, who had made it to the final shortlist.
This followed a painstaking selection process that involved three independent consulting firms, including global accounting and human resources firm, Ernst and Young.
Mushore’s imminent appointment is set to headline discussions in the full council meeting at the end of the month whose motion will be tabled by mayor, Bernard Manyenyeni and council’s human resources committee chairman, Wellington Chikombo, in terms of protocol.
Both Manyenyeni and Chikombo were non-committal when pressed to comment on the matter.
“I am not confirming anything at the moment,” Manyenyeni said.
While confirming that the selection process was now complete, Chikombo said an announcement would be made in due course.
“I am not at liberty to disclose the identity of the incoming town clerk, but what I can assure you is that we settled for someone we are convinced has what it takes to turn around the fortunes of the city. He is someone with financial probity and an excellent leader who to us is the epitome of hope for Harare,” he added.
The appointment of Mushore would have to pass through the Local Government Board. The board would then notify the Minister of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing, Saviour Kasukuwere, as a formality. Kasukuwere cannot, however, interfere with the recruitment.
Although Mushore once fled the country following accusations that he had externalised foreign currency at NMB Bank, a banking subsidiary of NMBZ Holdings, he was eventually cleared by the courts after he returned home.
Mushore was arrested in 2007 when he returned to the country after three years on the police wanted list. He was tried in court on allegations of breaching exchange control regulations and violating Zimbabwe’s immigration laws. He was, however, acquitted and returned to NMBZ as CEO.
His brush with the law started when, as deputy managing director for NMBZ, he stood accused of six counts of flouting exchange control regulations by allegedly instructing bank staff to siphon more than US$2,4 million, £285 000, R3-million, 30 000 euros and 800 000 Botswana pula to a bank in London without the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe’s approval.
He had made a dramatic, movie-style escape out of the country, via Lake Kariba to Zambia, from where he flew to England in 2004 after the authorities indicated he and three other senior NMBZ officials were in trouble with the law.
He was also facing one count of breaching immigration laws related to his escape from the country.
Mushore confirmed he went for the interviews but said he was yet to receive any correspondence from council.
“I went for the interviews but I do not know if I was successful. The city has not yet communicated with me,” he said.
Former economic planning and investment promotion minister, Tapiwa Mashakada, is said to have been among some of the top contenders for the job, but mysteriously pulled out of the race during the final lap of the interviews.
He had been invited to appear before the interview panel which came up with the three final candidates, but chose to abscond the interviews without explanation, raising speculation that he pulled out at the behest of Movement for Democratic Change (MDC-T) president, Morgan Tsvangirai, who might have felt that the move could send wrong signals about the state of his fractious party.
Mashakada is formerly the MDC-T’s former deputy secretary general.
At the party’s last congress in 2014, he contested for the treasurer general’s position, squaring up against Theresa Makone, who trounced him.
He was appointed to the MDC-T executive by Tsvangirai after the congress alongside Nelson Chamisa, a former organising secretary who lost to Douglas Mwonzora.
MDC-T sources said there were widespread fears within the party that Mashakada had no hope in the future of the party and was ready to sacrifice his legislative seat for Harare’s US$10 000 per-month top job.
But Tsvangirai is said to have persuaded him to pullout as this would have seriously have dented his own political fortunes as well as those of his party.
“(Tsvangirai) probably thought that such a move by a senior party member would post a big statement about the stability of the party and its future,” said an MDC-T official who declined to be named.
Mashakada was not answering calls on his mobile phone this week.
Council hired two consultants, global accounting and human resources firm, Ernst and Young and Distinctive Consultative Services, to conduct the selection process on its behalf.
The two firms separately handled 12 candidates from a record 140 initial applications that were reduced to 24 by an unnamed consultant.
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