The Minister of Minerals, Energy and Water Resources (MMEWR) Kitso Mokaila has fired Water Utilities Corporation Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Leonard Nxumalo. The Swazi native will be packing his bags and returning home for good at the end of December, just a year into his three year contract.
Nxumalo was given marching orders on Thursday, just a day after the Joint Negotiation Committee (JNC) meeting was convened as a matter of urgency to address staff grievances, among them issues of remuneration. WUC employees at Gaborone Water Works went on strike last week amid complaints about remuneration.
In September, Sunday Standard reported that Nxumalo was ordered to account for millions of Pula spent by government on the loss-making parastatal, or risk being fired from work. Before his sacking, Nxumalo was summoned to Mokaila’s office, where the minister demanded that he accounts for the funds that government has been pumping into the cash-strapped parastatal.
This was after the acting Permanent Secretary Nchidzi Mmolawa had written a strong-worded letter to Nxumalo warning him to desist from considering additional funding to deal with emergencies, while still holding un-utilized funds from government. Mmolawa had ordered Nxumalo to be proactive in addressing emergencies. Nxumalo was also instructed to submit a detailed plan depicting the prioritized emergency projects that he intends to cover and to clearly outline anticipated costs between April and October. He was also told to provide monthly progress reports of all WUC projects.
More importantly, Nxumalo was specifically instructed to account for the P388 million that WUC had received from government under the pretext that part of the money would be used to pay employees. Nxumalo’s troubles were further compounded by WUC employees who had reported management to the Permanent Secretary for failing to pay them performance rewards, even though such funds were availed by government. Nxumalo joined WUC in 2012 as a consultant (turn-around strategist) and only became the CEO after the departure of Godfrey Mudanga in 2014. Prior to joining WUC, Nxumalo worked for Swaziland Water Services Corporation (SWSC) as Director of Strategic Services. Nxumalo has a Masters degree in Public Management from the Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (USA).
He also has a Bachelor of Social Science (Public Administration and Economics) from the University of Swaziland. WUC Public Relations Manager Matida Mmipi confirmed Nxumalo’s departure but added that it was under ‘’mutual agreement”. She also confirmed that some WUC employees went on strike after a misunderstanding that arose from the Corporation’s omission to pay them some of their dues in the November 2015 payroll as had been communicated to them. Mmipi however said the workers have now resumed duty. Sunday Standard has also seen a memo sent to all members of staff and signed by WUC board Chairperson Matome Malema in which he was informing them of Nxumalo’s departure. ‘’This follows a mutual and cordial agreement with the Corporation”, Malema wrote in his staff notice.