Home » Business » Unilever Suspends Top Management

Happiness Zengeni and Tinashe Makichi

Unilever has suspended Zimbabwe-based vice president for Southern Africa, Nancy Guzha, Southern Africa brand building director Juliet Ziswa and four other top managers amid allegations of serious corporate governance deficiencies within the company.

Some of the allegations include misappropriation of company funds and abuse of company assets.

Well placed sources told The Herald Business that the company’s top management allegedly used company assets to run personal errands as well as enjoying benefits outside the provisions of the group policy.

“Investigations have been launched into the conduct of the executive as there was serious corporate governance abuse. There was no demarcation between company business and personal errands. Most of them are known to run thriving personal businesses.”

In a statement, communications manager Kudzai Makuni confirmed the suspension saying that the six had been placed on administrative leave pending internal investigations.

“These managers remain employed by Unilever while this process is underway,” she said, adding that the company had put in place management measures although temporarily.

“To keep our Southern Africa office and Unilever Zimbabwe operations on track, we have put management measures in place that are purely temporary as this will ensure business continuity.

“Unilever remains committed to growing a sustainable business within Zimbabwe and across the region.”

Speculation is rife that Unilever wants to replace the executive with expatriates from South Africa where it is importing the bulk of its commodities.

Mrs Guzha was appointed vice president of Unilever Southern Africa last year. The appointment was a huge feat for the first female MD of Unilever Zimbabwe and makes her one of the few female executives at the helm of the household products manufacturing giant.

Mrs Guzha has been managing director of Unilever Zimbabwe for almost three years and has pushed the company to regain its position as the most sought after brand.

She was recruited by Unilever straight after graduating from Reading University in the United Kingdom in 1997 as a management trainee in finance and eventually changed to marketing. She left to join Cairns Holdings Limited after three years but came back to Unilever in 2001.

She joined the Unilever office in Durban as brand development manager responsible for Lifebuoy and Vaseline in 2003.

In 2004 she came back to Zimbabwe as marketing director but left again to join Innscor Africa in distribution where she worked for 18 months. She finally came back as managing director in 2011, a position she has held to date.

Unilever has been in Zimbabwe since 1943 and manufactures products such as Geisha, Royco Usavi Mix, Sunlight washing powder and Key soap.

The company significantly scaled down its local production with the bulk of its products being outsourced from South Africa.

Source : The Herald