The embattled Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board (TIMB) chief executive officer Meanwell Gudu, who was on suspension pending investigations by the Zimbabwe Anti Corruption Commission over a US$2,8 million input deal, was suspended again on Thursday four hours after being reinstated.
Gudu is facing an internal disciplinary hearing by the TIMB for further alleged gross misconduct he committed during his short stint at the helm of the tobacco industry regulator between October 2020 and June 2022.
According to the impeccable sources privy to Gudu’s suspension, the suspension was lifted for him to resume his duties on August 17, but he found himself being kicked out of office.
“After the lifting of his suspension, he subsequently reported for duty on the said date and was served with a suspension letter barely four hours after he resumed his duties.
“He was then whisked away from the TIMB head office in Willowvale by a company driver who returned with his car to the TIMB offices,” said a source.
Contacted for comment, TIMB spokesperson Chelesani Tsarwe expressed ignorance about the matter.
“Honestly, I am not aware of the proceedings. However, if any verdict is made by my superiors, we will definitely issue a statement that addresses the issue for all stakeholders to know,” said Tsarwe.
However, sources said, “When Gudu came to the offices, a closed-door meeting was held, but the outcome was not relayed to the rest of the staff. What I can tell you is that Gudu’s issue is yet to end.”
Contacted for comment, Gudu confirmed that he parted ways with the parastatal.
“I’m no longer working at TIMB so I am not in a position to comment. What I know is I was reinstated and immediately dismissed. I was notified of this development by the board chairperson,” said Gudu.
Gudu was arrested by ZACC on September 6 last year and has already appeared in court facing criminal abuse of office charges relating to tobacco inputs meant to benefit small-scale farmers amounting to US$2,8 million.
He is jointly charged with TIMB former CEO Andrew Matibiri and former head of special projects, Stuart Shayanyika. The three are currently on bail.
Gudu also has another matter before the courts. He has been charged with employing an unqualified person at the company.
The suspension of Gudu has seen faster growth for the tobacco industry, with more people being investigated for incompetence.
A raft of measures have been put in place to ensure farmers’ grievances are addressed amicably while putting the industry in good repute. This year’s production hit a record 295 million kg easily the highest since commercial production started 108 years ago.
Text/ Image: The Herald