Mobile phone network operator Telecel Zimbabwe's designated managing director, John Swaim, is yet to be issued a work permit by immigration officials, leaving the company without a substantive head several months after Anthony Carter's departure.

Sources told The Financial Gazette this week that the telecoms company was in an indeterminate state as immigration officials were dragging their feet on issuing a work licence to Swaim, who was appointed managing director to replace Carter.

During Carter's tenure, Swaim was employed as a consultant until his brief appointment as Carter's successor. Before Swaim's appointment, Rex Chibesa, the information technology and administration director, held the reins at Telecel.

But Swaim's tenure as managing director did not last long as he hastily flew out to his base in Cairo after failing to satisfy the country's immigration conditions, once again thrusting Chibesa at the helm of the mobile phone provider as acting Telecel boss.

The sources also disclosed that some members within the Telecel board were beginning to voice their displeasure at the lengthy period it was taking to employ a substantive managing director.

"His work permit hasn't come out yet," said a source. "So we are now concerned about operating without a substantive head for months now," the source added.Management sources said the board was divided over the appointment of Swaim, whom insiders view as being close to Telecel's exiled former chairman James Makamba.

Makamba sneaked out of Zimbabwe last year to avoid a probe into allegations of siphoning scarce foreign currency out of the troubled country. Efforts to reach Elasto Mugwadi, the chief immigration officer, were unsuccessful, while Chibesa referred inquiries about Swaim to acting chairperson Jane Mutasa, who was not immediately available for comment.

Financial Gazette