Home » Business » S African Acting As Unilever Boss

Manufacturing company Unilever has appointed South African James Todd to head the organisation in an acting capacity pending the disciplinary hearing of the company’s top management, which is currently under suspension.

Unilever Zimbabwe’s managing director and vice president of Southern Africa Nancy Guzha along with five other senior managers were sent on administrative leave after they were alleged to have breached code of business principles.

Mrs Guzha is facing allegations of failing to ensure company policies are adhered to. She is also accused of being paid additional benefits in fuel as she was wrongfully and unlawfully paid a full grade fuel allowance which she was not supposed to get.

Mrs Guzha is also said to have made the company service and maintain her personal vehicle while she hired cars and taxis using Unilever’s account.

Last week, president of Unilever Africa Bruno Witvoete sent communication to Unilever’s suppliers and customers notifying them of the changes in the group.

In the letter, dated May 5, 2015 Mr Witvoete announces that “(Mrs) Nancy Guzha has begun a period of administrative leave pending internal inquiries. (Mr) James Todd, the current African cluster finance vice president will take over as acting head of the Southern African cluster”.

Mr Witvoete added that all inquiries should be directed to Mr Todd and that all other business should continue as normal.

Informed sources at the company, however, say the move to suspend Mrs Guzha and her team on “trivial charges” was tantamount to discrimination against locals. Unilever is a British-Dutch multinational consumer goods company co-headquartered in Rotterdam, Netherlands, and London, United Kingdom.

“It is hard to believe that such trivial charges would warrant suspension of the whole top executive team. (Mrs) Guzha and her team have won numerous awards in recognition of the outstanding work they have done. We think it’s a plot by head office to get rid of all the locals and replace them with an all South African team,” said an inside source.

However, observers said the charges hold water as European companies have a strict code of conduct and governance. When the Unilever Group was formed the companies (PLC and NV), have operated and worked as a single entity with the same code of conduct across all countries.

“The charges might be viewed as trivial especially here in Zimbabwe but these European headquartered companies have strict code of business principles and no breach of conduct is classified as trivial. If the company says personal vehicles will not be serviced then it’s against the policy to service them using the company account,” said human resources consultant Tapiwa Chidamba.

Source : The Herald