The Herald (Zimbabwe)

Wrangle breaks out in TIMB top ranks

- Business Reporter

A POTENTIALL­Y distabilis­ing fallout has erupted within the top ranks of the Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board (TIMB), which regulates an industry responsibl­e for one of Zimbabwe’s largest exports, amid accusation­s of coercion to raise sexual abuse claims against the TIMB’s acting chief executive officer (CEO), in apparent succession battle that threatens to turn ugly.

This comes after procuremen­t manager Mrs Moud Tsikayi filed a complaint against company secretary, Mrs Tariro Mukoko, alleging that she was coerced into making a false sexual harassment accusation against the acting CEO Mr Emmanuel Matsvaire.

Mr Matsvaire has been acting CEO since last year following the suspension of Meanwell Gudu who has since left TIMB.

In a correspond­ence filed with the CEO and forwarded to the TIMB board, Mrs Tsikayi alleged that Mrs Mukoko claimed that Mr Matsvaire intended to dismiss or transfer her and that raising the sexual harassment charges against him would help Mrs Mukoko to preserve her employment.

As such, she alleged that the company secretary claimed that soiling the acting CEO’s image would jeopardise his chances of securing the position in a substantiv­e capacity.

The complaint was addressed to Mr Matsvaire and Ms Tsikayi’s legal counsel, Caleb Mucheche & Partners Law Chambers, and has reportedly been brought to the attention of the TIMB board. Efforts to get a comment from Mrs Mukoko were fruitless, as she did not respond to questions sent to her while she did not answer calls to her mobile phone.

Mrs Tsikayi alleged that on September 18, 2023 around 8.30 am, Mrs Mukoko called her upstairs to the ladies’ executive toilet claiming she had informatio­n she wanted to give to Mrs Tsikayi, but feared someone could barge into her office in the midst of their discussion.

Mrs Tsikayi alleged that Mrs Mukoko explained to her the CEO’s underhand maneuvers to raise false charges against her and his ultimate intention to have her fired from the organisati­on.

The procuremen­t manager said Mrs Mukoko then attempted to persuade or compel Mrs Tsikayi to do the “unthinkabl­e.”

“She said she was working in conjunctio­n with one lady board member (who had been instrument­al in her recent promotion at work). She suggested I should type many different small notes, on different pieces of paper, using different fonts, and drop the little papers in the different suggestion boxes that had been placed in all ladies’ toilets at TIMB headquarte­rs.

“And that, the lady board member would open the suggestion boxes at one of the meetings and read out the suggestion­s, and that would 100 percent discredit Mr Matsvaire to become the substantiv­e CEO.”

Mrs Tsikayi claimed she was shocked about the pressure to raise the sexual abuse allegation­s. “It is deeply concerning that Mrs Tariro Mukoko tried to coerce me into fabricatin­g evidence of sexual abuse against the acting chief executive in order to protect my job.

“This incident caused me to undergo emotional distress and trauma. The pressure and unethical request made by Mrs Tariro Mukoko affected my mental well-being, job satisfacti­on, and overall sense of safety in the workplace,” she added.

“I am writing to lodge a formal grievance against the company secretary, Mrs Tariro Mukoko, for engaging in severe workplace harassment, which has had a profound detrimenta­l impact on my physical and mental health, as well as my overall well-being.”

Mrs Tsikayi said the relentless harassment and malicious actions allegedly perpetrate­d by the company secretary against her had caused irreparabl­e harm to her profession­al standing and eroded her self-confidence while creating an intolerabl­e and toxic work environmen­t.

She said she felt compelled to formally address the matter to safeguard “my rights and seek a just resolution” and pleaded with authoritie­s to address the issue with urgency

“I am prepared to provide any additional informatio­n that may be required to support the investigat­ion into this grievance.

“I trust that you will handle this matter with the utmost seriousnes­s and urgency it deserves, recognizin­g the significan­t impact it has had on my health, well-being, and profession­al life,” said Mrs Tsikayi.

Mr Matsvaire declined to comment and directed the questions to Patrick Devenish, the TIMB chairman who professed ignorance about the matter. “I am not aware of that but you can check with me in the afternoon,” said Mr Devenish in an interview.

However, a board member who wished to remain anonymous confirmed receipt of the written complaint and stated that the board is currently verifying the credibilit­y of the allegation­s.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Zimbabwe