By Staff Reporter
Tension is escalating within the Zimbabwe Red Cross Society (ZRCS) as the organisation holds elections to choose its board of governors.
ZRCS has been conducting elections to usher in a new board starting from the districts and provinces across the country.
The exercise, which started on June 22 and characterised by mudslinging, backbiting and bickering, is set to end by November 30 when the organisation holds the national elections.
The run-up to the national polls has been so nasty that last Wednesday, Edson Mlambo, the incumbent national president, was hauled before the courts to answer to abuse of office charges.
Charges against Mlambo emanate from one of the two internal anonymous reports on the organisation’s operations, compiled by the factions within the ZRCS family.
One of the reports with allegations of nepotism and corruption within the organisation’s ranks is said to have been leaked to the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (Zacc).
However, Zacc spokesperson John Makamure yesterday could not be reached to confirm if the anti-graft body had received the whistleblowers’ reports from ZRCS.
The Standard established that during the past seven months the ferocity of the divisions within the organisation, which is an auxiliary arm of the government, had been so intense it put the reputation of the organisation at stake.
“It is dog eat dog when it comes to elections at the Zimbabwe Red Cross,” said one volunteer at the organisation.
“There is a lot of political bickering and it is all about counter-accusations.
“Surprisingly, those who accuse others would be having a lot to hide. Some are using their connections to elbow others out.”
Some directors and several managers have since been suspended while secretary-general Maxwell Phiri resigned in May.
ZRCS acting secretary-general Elias Hwenga described the suspension and termination of contracts for some people in the top echelons as part of the organisation’s disciplinary processes.
“In order to bring sanity to the organisation, we undertook a formal, independent investigation of this matter,” Hwenga said.
“Any recommendations that came through were considered like carrying out an audit, skills audit and compiling an assets register.
“We are carrying out disciplinary processes as provided for in the organisation’s constitution and policies. Those who are being caught on the wrong side are being brought to book.”
Hwenga was evasive on the “crisis” at ZRCS, but confirmed that the organisation was having elections this year.
“We started this exercise, which is part of our constitution, on June 22. We started from our structures at the branch, district levels, we move on to the provinces before we hold the national elections,” he said.
“The exercise is going on smoothly and we hope to end it by November 30. It is unfortunate we had to move the dates because of restrictions brought by the advent of the Covid-19 pandemic early this year.
“It’s common that during elections results might not come in your favour, which might cause a lot of problems.”
Hwenga said there was no crisis at ZRCS, but what was happening was expected of any election environment.
However, he is optimistic that the situation will normalise at the organisation after the elections.
ZRCS is an auxiliary to government as mandated through the Zimbabwe Red Cross Society Act of Parliament No 30 of 1981, also known as Chapter 17:08.