LARRY Mavhima has been appointed the new chairman of the National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ), about four months after veteran rail adminstration Alvord Mabhena was axed from the parastatal under unclear circumstances.
The appointment of the former Zvishavane-Runde Member of Parliament, is effective from March 1, and will run for three years.
Mavhima’s task will be far from easy as the NRZ remains mired in financial dire straits.
Worker unrest, defunct rail equipment and obsolete machinery, among other things, are some of the many challenges in Mavhima’s in-tray.
The jury will also be out on whether the Mavhima-led board would be able to resuscitate the US$500 million loan talks with the Development Bank of Southern Africa for the cash-strapped parastatal’s retooling.
ZANU-PF apparatchiks are accused of having thrown spanners into the deal as they sought to have their own terms for the deal, ostensibly to line up their pockets.
Mavhima’s appointment is set to be announced this week by Transport and Infrastructural Development Minister, Joram Gumbo.
Contacted for comment on the matter, Mavhima responded to text messages from this publication saying: “…am only being introduced to the board and management on Thursday and the Minister does not want any publicity before he does that.”
Fanuel Masikati, the NRZ public relations manager, also directed queries in relation to the new NRZ chairman to Gumbo.
“In terms of protocols this one needs you to get in touch directly with either the Minister or the permanent secretary and I am sure that there is no problem at all with them,” said Masikati.
Gumbo did not answer his mobile phone when contacted for comment.
Meanwhile, Davison Norupiri, president of the Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce, welcomed the appointment of the new NRZ chairman and said the new appointee faced the difficult task of turning around the fortunes of one of the country’s most important national assets.
“Basically NRZ is of key strategic importance and the chairman must work flat-out to resuscitate the institution. NRZ is the focal point for businesses, and the present scenario is that haulage trucks are being used to transport goods and this is a very expensive exercise. So one of the expectations on the new NRZ chairman will be for some relief to be extended to the cost of doing business, not only for companies, but for the entire nation as well,” he said.
“The issue of competitiveness cannot be addressed without mention of the NRZ. What we are looking for as business is the ease of doing business. We need to land goods much cheaper, as transport costs contribute significantly into our overhead costs. I wish the new NRZ chairman all the best and hope that he can turnaround that institution so we produce our products at a competitive prices,” Norupiri
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