HARARE – The board of directors of the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC) exerted undue pressure on a recruitment agency to interview executive managers who failed the first set of job interviews and later employed them.
By Gift Phiri
Documents seen by the Daily News show the ZBC board recruited substandard candidates for the top jobs in a blatant breach of recommendations of the recruitment agency, and seemingly engaged in a sham recruiting exercise, posting executive positions that, for all intents and purposes, seemed filled already.
It seems ZBC wanted to meet legal requirements, such as “equal employment opportunity” by engaging a recruitment agency, Industrial Psychology Consultants (IPC), to conduct interviews then disregard its recommendations by resorting to a dismal practice to promote someone from within.
IPC, which was contracted by ZBC to assist with the recruitment for a new executive team, came under withering pressure to interview candidates who failed to make the cut.
The aim of the exercise was to recruit a team that would be able to deliver viability and self-sustenance to the State broadcaster.
This comes as the State broadcaster is in a deep financial crisis due to dwindling advertising and licence revenue as well as poor management, use of archaic equipment, and is coming under increasing pressure from opposition parties over its biased news coverage, in particular during this election season.
The recruitment was for eight executive positions and was conducted in November 2015.
After the interviews, the recruitment effort went for over two years with no substantial visible activity, until June last year when most of the top posts were eventually substantively filled by candidates, most of whom failed in job interviews.
The positions recruited for were chief executive officer (CEO); corporate secretary; director (radio services); director (television services); director (news and current affairs); director (finance, human resources and administration); director (broadcast technology) and director (marketing).
The recruitment was touted as part of an organisational restructuring that ZBC is currently undertaking.
The 131-page report, produced by the recruitment agency, contains a litany of professional recruitment pitfalls, but the most glaring example is how the ZBC board helped a former soldier, Patrick Mavhura, get a job as substantive CEO of the State broadcaster.
Mavhura, who was acting CEO in November 2015 when the interviews were conducted, dismally flunked interviews conducted by IPC.
A former Zimbabwe Defence Forces (ZDF) workshop manager, Mavhura came out number nine and seven in psychometric tests and assessment centre tests, respectively, but still got the job.
Mavhura, who had been acting after former ZBC boss Happyson Muchechetere was sent home for misconduct and financial mismanagement, was appointed substantive CEO in June last year even after performing dismally and against the recommendations of the recruitment agency.
The 18 shortlisted candidates for the CEO job were Christopher Chivinge, Shadreck Tanyanyiwa, Lovemore Mandima, Webster Muzariri, Mavhura, Collins Chihuri, Trevor Chigwanda, Justin Mutasa, Nanette Silukuni, Albert Mandizha, David Machingaidze, Sylvester Zumbika, Tendai Kapumha, Peter Mujaya, Godfrey Mawarura, Wonder Nyakudya, Lucky Maurukira and Misheck Masaiti.
Out of the 18 shortlisted candidates, 15 were tested and only four who topped the psychometric tests were recommended to proceed to interviews — Kapumha, Machingaidze, Maurukira and Zumbika.
The ZBC board then unduly instructed the recruitment agency to interview Mavhura even after flunking the tests and not making the cut for interviews.
“After reviewing our report, the board made some adjustments to our recommendations,” the recruitment agency said in its damning report.
“The adjustments are listed below (taken verbatim from the email sent by ZBC to us): Patrick Mavhura, the current acting CEO is interviewed in respect of the position of managing director, in view of the fact that he is the current CEO. Assessment centres be administered on . . . Mavhura for the position of director finance, H/R and administration, and interviews held for the same; . . . Mavhura, the acting CEO should be interviewed first, ahead of the other candidates for both the position of MD and director — finance, H/R and admin.
“… Silukuni should also be interviewed in view of the need for gender balance.”
Even after the interviews, Mavhura — who has an Executive Master of Business Administration degree and is also a holder of the internationally-acclaimed Institute of Chartered Secretaries and Administrators in Zimbabwe qualification — again failed, scoring far below the recommended total score of at least 50 percent.
The recruitment agency recommended that only candidates with the total score of 50 percent and above be considered for placement.
Only two candidates made the cut, Kapumha who scored 70 percent and Machingaidze who scored 68 percent.
The third candidate, Zumbika scored 46 percent, which was below the 50 percent average required in the cognitive and interview scores.
Mavhura was not even listed among the three eligible candidates for the job.
But ZBC board chairperson Father Gibson Munyoro, gave Mavhura the job claiming that after “observing” and “critically assessing the performance, conduct, competencies, qualifications and commitment of Mavhura to the ZBC and its operations in a full board meeting …resolved to appoint him as the substantive CEO.”
His appointment was for a fixed term of five years and is performance-based, benchmarked against the ZBC’s business transformation strategic plan 2017-2019 and the company’s annual budget.
Reached for comment yesterday, Munyoro told the Daily News there were many considerations in the recruitment of the CEO, including security considerations.
“As the board responsible for recruiting the CEO, when you engage private consultants, they present a final report recommending people to recruit. But for security purposes, the nation has an interest in the security of the ZBC, so people are sent for vetting. So it’s possible, you could perform very well during interviews, but fail the vetting process,” he told the Daily News.
“The situation advised us to head-hunt. We started by using a recruitment agency but because of difficulties of the process, we head-hunted.
“It’s not that the board disregarded the recommendations, we followed procedures, but the situation advised us to rethink.
“The process involved interviews, vetting and then offering a job to an individual, who can either accept it, reject it on the basis of the package or the conditions.
At the end of the day, it can happen that everyone that is targeted qualifies, that’s a possible scenario, or you get someone else. The process has a lot of options.”
Asked why they hired a CEO who flunked in interviews, Munyoro said the ZBC board was impressed with how Mavhura was steering the ship when they were hunting for a substantive CEO.
“ZBC in the meantime was going on. How is the person managing? Let’s consider this person. The board took some time observing, looking at the acting CEO. He showed he had the capacity. He was running the institution during all this time. So, we made a decision that we have capacity that we can mentor and develop in the interest of the corporation,” Munyoro said.
In 2016, Mavhura was acquitted on allegations of criminal abuse of office after he allegedly bought 35 vehicles without following due process, prejudicing ZBC of about $700 000 and government of $20 000.
Asked if the ZBC board was happy with how Mavhura was running the State broadcaster, Munyoro retorted: “If we were not happy, we could have fired him. He has a performance-based contract.”
IPC said: “The recruitment exercise overall was a challenge.”
The agency said in its executive summary, “generally, the CVs we received from candidates for some positions such as the managing director and core broadcasting positions were not up to standard”.
“This may be a sign that the broadcasting sector in Zimbabwe does not have enough skilled people locally. Candidates from outside Zimbabwe were hesitant to apply due to low remuneration in the country,” the damning report says.
The recruitment agency said people were hesitant to apply and be considered for recruitment due to ZBC’s past problems. – Daily News