Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) Zambia is on the verge of plunging into a deep crisis following alleged poor management and leadership by National Director Sipo Kapumba which has resulted in poor performance and failure to honour agreements with donors.
And tensions have emerged between Kapumba and MISA Zambia chairperson Daniel Sikazwe, who is said to be frustrated by Kapumba’s non-performance and chaotic leadership which has sunk the morale of members of staff.
Meanwhile some MISA Zambia members have complained about Kapumba’s arrogance and lack of respect and the fact that the annual gerneral meeting for members to air their views has not been called.
Sources have disclosed that Kapumba has failed to submit the 2010 audit reports to Irish Aid and Diakonia Sweden on time, in line with the Joint Funding Agreement (JFA) signed between MISA Zambia and the two donors which required MISA Zambia to submit the audit statements and management letter by 30th April. It was not clear whether MISA Zambia was going to submit the delayed audit reports, which have been delayed for three months. This is said to have frustrated the donors, who have threatened to pull out of the funding arrangement.
A reliable source from the current National Governing Council (NGC) of MISA Zambia has also confirmed that donors have questioned MISA Zambia’s capacity to complete its work plan for 2011 after it emerged that most activities have not yet been implemented with only five months to the end of the year.
“Nothing gets approved by his office, yet we are told he insists on seeing even letters and emails that are to be sent out but he sits on these things. Do you know how [former Information and Research Officer] Jane Chirwa left MISA? It was such issues that she attempted to bring to our attention and she was charged for speaking to board members. She is a martyr. I expect the staff turn over to worsen because I know there’s at least two staff that have said they won’t be renewing their contracts due to frustrations and unprofessionalism”.
Asked why the NGC are allowing such things to happen in MISA, the source said the problems with the NGC was that they did not have full information other than through anonymous sources. “Maybe one or two brave members of staff should stand up and tell us what is going on, but then again, the procedure is that we communicate through the National Director to the staff and vice-versa. But again there are indicators that there is a big problem. For instance, my colleagues who are signatories have signed more administrative expenses than programmatic ones. This will worry the donors when they see the financial statements. It’s a sign that implementation is not happening. Donors are essentially funding salaries, lunches, etc. Now tell me, which donor will be happy with that? We have a very good treasurer who in fact warned in one of our meetings that the spending was more inclined to administrative issues. I’m sure she will have lots of questions for him [Kapumba] when we meet. He has been delaying NGC meetings. It’s like he knows all is not well”
And Kapumba is said to have angered NGC treasurer Sarah Banda when he went ahead to hire Cleopatra Hamambo as presenter of a MISA Zambia sponsored governance programme Face the Media on Radio Phoenix despite concerns about her involvement in last year’s K 70 million Save the Children scam that led to her loss of employment with ZNBC.
“Sarah is upset because Cleopatra’s name was at the centre of the Save the Children scandal. She has even refused to sign her payment for the programme because she [Cleopatra Hamambo] was not hired properly. She was single-sourced besides the fact that she has issues in the past” the source said.
Serious allegations have emerged that Kapumba has been spendingtoo much of his time holding witch-hunting meetings with members of staff in which he has been threatening them with dismissals if they did not obey his instructions and report anyone among them who was working against him.
“Staff have told us that much of the time is spent on witch-hunting meetings with staff as a group and with selected staff one-on-one. Basically in those meetings he simply reminds staff that he has the power to hire and fire, and that they need to maintain the confidentiality of what he says. We are told by the current and former staff that he has instilled fear in them and they do not feel they have any security of their jobs at all”, said the NGC member.
According to the source, the one-on-one meetings with selected members of staff lasted from 0800hrs to 1200hrs every day and during such meetings Kapumba would assure the particular staff he was meeting of confidentiality as a way of persuading them to tell on their colleagues.
“Staff say that they have been forced to lie about some of their colleagues to protect their jobs, as saying nothing negative about those staff Sipo does not like would be taken for conspiracy against him. This is a very unhealthy situation that Sipo has created at MISA Zambia”, said the source, adding that Kapumba recently fired his secretary because she refused to talk against her colleagues.
And a freelance journalist has alleged that staff at MISA Zambia competed for favours from Kapumba and ended up lying about each other.
“It’s embarrassing because, you see, the Resource Centre is in the middle of the offices and we see what happens. The guy is worshipped, but you can see that the staff are doing it out of fear. The other day one of them told me that she had been warned against chatting with us in the resource centre, obviously because he does not want us to know what is going on. Of course there are some who are rebels and they still chat with us with his full knowledge”, the journalist said.
Kapumba is said to be using his prerogative to offer or renew staff contracts to intimidate staff and he has allegedly vowed not to offer new contracts to those he considers rebels. As a result of this, most of the staff spent their working time applying for jobs elsewhere.
And a member of the immediate past MISA Zambia NGC said he was informed that currently only Kapumba and one other staff had full term contracts while the rest of the staff were on three-month renewable contracts.
“This casualization is unheard of in the history of MISA Zambia. How do you expect the staff to be committed if they only have three months contracts? Not even [former national director] Hewitt [Chizyuka] ever did something like this. Sipo himself worked as Information Officer for 12 years. He was never given a three month contract by Mr [Fanwell] Chembo who was National Director then. Staff complain about him each time I meet them and they think the current board has left him to his devices too much but we are ready for him at the AGM”, the former NGC member said.
The former board member said there was a member of staff who has been on the three-month arrangement for the past one year, adding: “I challenge Sipo to deny that he has kept someone guessing for the last one year”. The former NGC member added: “I interacted with the donors last year and I can assure you they have no respect for Sipo. They do not think he is a serious guy when it comes to serious work. My colleagues who are still in the board have a challenge to manage that guy. But all this is because of [former chairperson] Henry Kabwe. He brought that guy back to MISA although even he regrets this”
The former NGC member said even Vice President George Kunda took whatever Kapumba said or did with a pinch of salt.
“The Vice President was not fooled by attempts by Sipo to show that he was engaging the government on media issues. He knows that the fellow is double-tongued. That is why the veep criticised MISA in parliament. He was indirectly saying Kapumba has no credibility. It is not really MISA the veep was attacking. We know this.
“Look at how he deceived the Media Liaison Committee and gave a last-minute award to Fr Frank Bwalya! To date the Press Association of Zambia, ZUJ, The Post and others have not forgiven him for that. In fact if it’s The Post, last year Fred M’membe told the guy off. They know that only MISA can make the costly mistake of entrusting Sipo with serious responsibility. This is the guy who would meet Chanda Chimba III and tell him he was doing well with his documentaries, but the very next moment he meets other people and tell them that the documentaries are unprofessional. We know him!”, he said.
And MISA Zambia Chairperson Daniel Sikazwe is frustrated with Kapumba upon realising that the audit report has been delayed by nearly three months. Sources disclosed that Sikazwe has informed Kapumba of his concerns. Sikazwe is said to have worried about the staff turn-over in MISA Zambia.
The sources disclosed that Sikazwe was not getting the required cooperation from Kapumba. Instead, Kapumba got upset when he discovered that Sikazwe had complained to someone about his [Kapumba’s] inefficiency and abusive treatment of members of staff.
“I think Sipo looks down on Daniel [Sikazwe] because he [Daniel] once worked at MISA under him. So there is a challenge there. I’m told their relationship has deteriorated and Sipo is mobilising people against Daniel like he did with others such as [ former MISA Zambia chairpersons] Dickson Jere and Fr Frank Bwalya. But this time we are watching him. We know that the AGM is approaching and we shall be there”, the source said.
Meanwhile Oblate Radio Liseli, a radio station in Mongu is reported to be unhappy with the way Kapumba was handling the Media Legal Defence fund as though it were personal to holder. Sources in Mongu revealed that there has been bitter exchange of emails between Kapumba and the directors at Liseli following a letter written to him by Liseli and copied to relevant programme staff at Liseli and MISA Zambia. Kapumba was allegedly angry that Liseli decided to copy the letter to “junior” officers and told the Liseli directors that he would not attend to their concerns unless they desisted from copying mails to his staff.
“We have been working with his so-called junior staff and there was nothing wrong with our bosses copying the mails to them. His response sounded like he makes arbitrary decisions based on his feelings on who to fund and who not to fund. His response lacked respect for our directors, who are priests, and they are not happy with him. This reminds us of his below par behaviour last year at the self-regulation conference where he called [PAZA Vice President] Amos Chanda, a liar. I mean we all saw what a shame it was for the whole MISA Zambia director to be screaming like that” the source said.
Other MISA Zambia member in and out of Lusaka are reported to have complained about Kapumba’s leadership at the secretariat