2009-09-19 09:17:00 Tanesco boss' exit set as job is advertised THE CITIZEN Tanesco managing director Dr Idris RashidiThe board had an option to extend Dr Rashidi�s contract by two years but has decided not to; had twice wanted to resign By Tom Mosoba Tanesco managing director Dr Idris Rashidi is finally set to leave the State-owned power utility company he has headed for three years in a controversy-plagued tenure. The board of directors of the Tanzania Electric Supply Company Ltd is already shopping for his replacement as managing director. And yesterday, the board placed advertisements in the media, calling on interested and qualified Tanzanians to apply for the post. A former Governor of the Bank of Tanzania (BoT), Dr Rashidi was in 2006, recalled from retirement by President Jakaya Kikwete, who appointed him to the position, at a time when the country faced its worst ever power supply crisis and was reeling from the $172.5 million Richmond emergency power generation scandal. Just as he came in, the MD will be leaving office at the end of November, a time when Tanesco is facing fresh corruption allegations. The company has also fallen behind in power generation efforts, despite rising demand for electricity that has seen six regions across the country subjected to power rationing. The reported corruption claims, include the controversial Sh1.4 billion renovation and planned sale, at throwaway prices, of company-owned mansions meant for occupation by senior staff in Dar es Salaam. And lately, queries have arisen over a Sh3.7 billion one-year employees' insurance cover contract, which Energy and Minerals minister William Ngeleja, has confirmed is being investigated by authorities. Sources within the energy sector yesterday said the developments in Tanesco were a departure from the tradition, where the President appoints the chief executive of the power firm. State House Director of Communication Salva Rweyemamu would not be drawn into discussing the change, but said that Tanesco and the Energy ministry were the right organs to comment on the impending change of management. According to the advertisement, the Tanesco board is only interested in candidates holding electrical engineering qualifications, or management professionals, who have extensive experience in the energy sector, spanning not less than 15 years. The applicants will be interviewed to pick a suitable replacement for Dr Rashidi, who is an economist. The outgoing MD came in after the termination by the Government of a management contract granted to a South African firm, Net Group Solutions, in early 2000. Yesterday, The Citizen established that the advertisement had caught a section of the management by surprise, with communications manager Badra Masoud, whose department handles all external notices, saying she was not aware of it. However, we later established that the advertisement was delivered to the media houses by one of the board members, Mr Beatus Segeja. Efforts to reach the chairman, Mr Peter Ngumbulu, and vice-chairman Adola Mapunda failed. But Minister Ngeleja, who spoke to The Citizen by phone from Sweden, where he is on official duty, and Dr Rashidi himself, said there was nothing sinister as the process was in accordance with the parastatal's regulations. "Dr Rashidi's contract is coming to an end and it is only a requirement that the board advertise for the position ahead of his departure," said Mr Ngeleja, adding that filling the position was one of its duties. For his part, Dr Rashidi told The Citizen: "I am (leaving Tanesco). My term ends on November 30. I am over 60 years and have completed the threeyear contract." Dr Rashidi did not state if he would have been willing to stay had the board asked him to. A source within the company, who asked not to be named for personal reasons, said the board had an option to extend Dr Rashidi�s contract by two years "but has decided not to, for reasons that we can only speculate about". The source claimed that Dr Rashidi had lately come under pressure to defend his record, following the new corruption allegations. Yet another senior official, who also sought anonymity, as he is not authorised to speak to the media, claimed that a cartel comprising some Tanesco employees, businessmen and politicians, who allegedly benefit from the state corporation, had ganged up to block the renewal of Dr Rashidi's contract. "Dr Rashidi has made many enemies within and outside the company for sealing loopholes that the cartels used to siphon millions of shillings out of Tanesco and now want him out of the way," the source said. But the outgoing MD said he knew nothing about that claim. Nevertheless, he said he would be leaving with his head held high. He described his three-year tenure as "excellent", adding: "We improved customer service. The financial position has improved and our staff are more confident and focused on their work." Dr Rashidi went on: "A Lot more needs to be done to improve the performance of the company. It was for me a great experience to work in the power sector." He will be remembered for his unswayed style that twice saw him contemplate resigning from the company. In 2007, he was prevailed upon not to quit after a government minister rescinded Tanesco's move to disconnect power supply to Tanga Cement Company for non-payment of a power bill of nearly Sh50 million. The firm paid the debt but lodged an official complaint with the Government for alleged harassment. Last year, Dr Rashidi also rubbed the Government the wrong way, when he claimed that some senior officials and politicians were interfering with Tanesco's operations, making it impossible to professionally and independently run the company. He was upset after the firm's proposal to purchase the controversial 100MW Dowans power plant to cushion the country from an impending power shortage was turned down, owing to links to the Richmond scandal. An investigation into the Richmond and Dowans contracts led to the resignation of Mr Edward Lowassa as Prime Minister, and Mr Nazir Karamagi and Dr Ibrahim Msabaha, as Cabinet ministers in February last year. During Dr Rashid's tenure, the cash strapped firm negotiated a record $300 million with a group of local banks and state corporations to pay its debts and turn around its operations.