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M&R CEO to quit amid allegations

MURRAY & Roberts Zimbabwe Ltd (M&R) CEO Canada Malunga will step down from the helm of the industrial construction company at the end of this month amid reports he could have clashed with board members on how some tenders were floated and awarded.

But Malunga denies he clashed with the board saying he resigned of his own accord.

According to a source, Malunga, who joined M&R in 1993, will be leaving the organisation on December 31.

It is also alleged that Malunga and some board members clashed over some management decisions and compliance procedures after the economy was formally dollarised last year.

“Some senior managers and board members made his operations difficult resulting in him opting to jump ship,” an insider said this week. “Technically, we can say they pushed him out because he was no longer feeling at home at the company.”

However, Mulunga told businessdigest yesterday that contrary to the reports on his departure, he had formally resigned to “pursue other interests” adding there was nothing sinister about his resignation.

“I wish to confirm that I will be leaving Murray & Roberts at the end of 2010 to pursue other interests,” Malunga said. “Should you want to get more details in terms of the future plans at Murray & Roberts, please feel free to contact the board chairman, Paddy Zhanda.”

Contacted for comment yesterday, Zhanda said allegations that Malunga was fired were “totally false and unfounded”.

“He resigned on his own accord to pursue other opportunities. We regret that he has made that decision, but never at one time did the board or management ever clash with him,” said Zhanda.

Asked who would replace Malunga, Zhanda said: “It is a process which needs to be handled carefully. No names have been shortlisted, but an official announcement will be made at the appropriate time.”

Zhanda also dismissed allegations that some management and board meetings showed that Malunga read from a different page to some managers and board members.

“It is unfortunate that this is being said, but as chairman I would know as I see all minutes. Like I said, we regret he is leaving and we would have loved to continue working with him, but he has made up his mind to pursue other opportunities,” said Zhanda.

Malunga said it was unfortunate that a culture of not accepting that one can formally resign without being pushed out had mushroomed to the extent that no one believes that CEOs in Zimbabwe can “genuinely” quit.

Malunga, who was elected the new Institute of Chartered Accountants of Zimbabwe (Icaz) president in September, said he mooted the idea to resign in July. Sources said he had also copied a letter of his resignation to the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange (ZSE) and to their parent company in South Africa where he was last week.

M&R (Zimbabwe) Ltd is listed on the ZSE and its single biggest shareholder is M&R Ltd of South Africa with 47% equity. M&R Ltd is a global business with an annual turnover in excess of 4 billion Rand.

During Malunga’s tenure, M&R’s earnings have been increasing while its operations have been expanding at a time when most construction companies operations were subdued.

While M&R Zimbabwe represents a tiny portion of M&R Ltd, it is seated on some of the greatest and exciting infrastructure related opportunities going into the future and is key to the global M&R Ltd’s strategy into Africa north of the Limpopo.

M&R South Africa said the decision to retain its presence in Zimbabwe despite the economic turmoil in the country had been a sound one.

“The business operations are well positioned to engage the infrastructure and resources rejuvenation that is anticipated as the political and economic environment stabilizes,” said M&R South Africa.

Commenting on the construction industry in an executive chat with businessdigest in September, Malunga, who is regarded as a construction and property expert, said the industry was generally robust, but had been let down by the poor economic climate and inconsistent government policies on investments.

“When you consider the state of our infrastructure and that more than 18 months into the new government and economic regime little work has been started to rebuild our infrastructure, then clearly the industry will continue to be strained. The good news is that this could change very quickly,” he said. “While the industry may appear to be under-capitalised, this can be corrected as soon as the investment climate improves and projects of a long-term nature get implemented whereupon the necessary structures may be put in place.”

 

Paul Nyakazeya

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