Sex­ual al­le­ga­tions rock NAC

The Sunday Mail (Zimbabwe) - - FRONT PAGE - Kuda Bwititi Chief Re­porter

GOV­ERN­MENT has launched an in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the op­er­a­tions of the Na­tional Aids Coun­cil (NAC) over al­le­ga­tions of sex­ual harass­ment, cor­po­rate sleaze and mal­ad­min­is­tra­tion.

The probe co­in­cides with last week’s de­par­ture of NAC chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer Dr Tapiwa Magure after a 14-year ten­ure.

Dr Magure was re­port­edly given a golden para­chute os­ten­si­bly for his long ser­vice.

Over the past few months, NAC’s top man­agers and board mem­bers have been bat­tling a slew of al­le­ga­tions that in­clude ten­der scan­dals, abuse of pub­lic funds and sex­ual harass­ment.

A re­cent re­port by the Zim­babwe Gen­der Com­mis­sion (ZGC) — a statu­tory body — im­pli­cates NAC’s board mem­bers and top di­rec­tors, in­clud­ing Dr Magure, in some of the shenani­gans.

Health and Child Care Min­is­ter Dr Oba­diah Moyo last week con­firmed Dr Magure had left NAC.

He, how­ever, noted that he wasn’t in a po­si­tion to shed light on the mat­ter as this would jeop­ar­dise on­go­ing in­ves­ti­ga­tions.

“I am not in a po­si­tion to dis­cuss any is­sues per­tain­ing to NAC at the mo­ment. Any­thing I say may work against what we are do­ing to re­store or­der at the in­sti­tu­tion,” he said.

An in­ter­nal mem­o­ran­dum dated Jan­uary 8 2019 gen­er­ated by NAC pur­ports that Dr Magure had left the in­sti­tu­tion in com­pli­ance with the new Pub­lic En­ti­ties and Cor­po­rate Gover­nance Act, which lim­its the term of CEOs of State en­ter­prises and paras­tatals to 10 years.

Those who had al­ready served more than 10 years when the law was gazetted on May 11 last year were al­lowed to stay on for six months while re­place­ments were be­ing sought.

“This serves to no­tify all em­ploy­ees that the NAC chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer, Dr Ta­puwa Magure, has left em­ploy­ment with ef­fect from Jan­uary 7 2019. The ter­mi­na­tion of his em­ploy­ment is in line with pro­vi­sions of the Pub­lic En­ti­ties and Cor­po­rate Gover­nance (Act Chap­ter 10:31),” read the let­ter from NAC’s hu­man re­sources depart­ment.

Dr Magure had not re­sponded to ques­tions sent to his email by the time of go­ing to print.

Also, NAC’s board chair Dr Evaristo Marowa, who re­cently told The Sun­day Mail that “my hands are clean”, could not be reached for com­ment last week.

The ZGC fell short of call­ing NAC — which is iron­i­cally man­dated to re­duce and elim­i­nate in­ci­dences of HIV/AIDS — a brothel.

ZGC said: “There are ram­pant con­sen­sual in­tra-or­gan­i­sa­tional sex­ual re­la­tions amongst NAC sec­re­tariat in­clud­ing se­nior man­age­ment who have sex­ual re­la­tions amongst them­selves and also with ju­nior em­ploy­ees.

“Sex­ual harass­ment is tak­ing place within the or­gan­i­sa­tion, with fe­male stu­dents on in­tern­ship and ju­nior staff mem­bers be­ing the tar­gets. Stu­dents on in­tern­ship are fall­ing prey to ju­nior male staff mem­bers while ju­nior fe­male staff mem­bers are tar­geted by se­nior man­age­ment.”

In­ter­est­ingly, ZGC said the jet­ti­soned CEO ad­mit­ted to hav­ing im­proper re­la­tions with three staff mem­bers.

He also claimed to have sub­se­quently mar­ried two of his lovers.

“The chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer ad­mit­ted hav­ing three re­la­tion­ships with ju­nior of­fi­cers within the or­gan­i­sa­tion. He ad­mit­ted to cus­tom­ar­ily mar­ry­ing two of the ju­nior of­fi­cers over and above a civil mar­riage which is still sub­sist­ing.”

In its rec­om­men­da­tions, the ZGC re­port en­cour­aged the Min­istry of Health and Child Care to “ex­er­cise more strin­gent over­sight on the Na­tional Aids Coun­cil, which has se­ri­ous cor­po­rate gover­nance chal­lenges.”

How­ever, in a clear sign of the deep-seated rot within NAC, Dr Magure told the Gen­der Com­mis­sion on Novem­ber 12 last year that his sit­u­a­tion was more or less sim­i­lar to for­mer South African Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma who was able to sat­is­fac­to­rily do his du­ties de­spite be­ing polyg­a­mous.

“He pointed out that in as far as his sex­ual re­la­tion­ships were con­cerned, there was no con­flict of in­ter­est since the or­gan­i­sa­tion has enough checks and bal­ances such as in­ter­nal and ex­ter­nal au­dits to en­sure good cor­po­rate gover­nance. Dr Magure likened him­self to for­mer South African Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma whom he viewed as a good leader in spite of his polyg­a­mous re­la­tion­ships.”

But ZGC also en­cour­aged NAC of­fi­cials to de­sist from the scan­dals and “walk the talk of pre­ven­tion of HIV in­fec­tion”.

“As a state in­sti­tu­tion, neg­a­tiv­ity in pol­icy and op­er­a­tional is­sues has rip­ple ef­fects on stake­hold­ers who ben­e­fit from their ser­vices as well the per­cep­tion of the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity of the coun­try’s man­age­ment of HIV/AIDS ser­vice pro­vi­sion. One of the prin­ci­ples of de­vel­op­ment work is to Do No Harm. By en­gag­ing in con­duct, sex­ual or oth­er­wise, that may re­sult in the ces­sa­tion of pro­gram­ming and other sup­port to those who are sup­posed to ben­e­fit, Na­tional AIDS Coun­cil Board, man­age­ment and staff are covertly per­pet­u­at­ing harm on the Zim­babwe pop­u­la­tion liv­ing with HIV.”

The or­gan­i­sa­tion’s op­er­a­tions di­rec­tor, Mr Ray­mond Yek­eye, has been ap­pointed act­ing CEO. But again, Mr Yek­eye is be­ing ac­cused of be­ing part of the rot at the or­gan­i­sa­tion.

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