London - Sibu had been looking forward to her visit to Tanzania for the launch of an aid initiative. Yet as so often with her boss Sipho Moyo, it turned into a trial, with repeated accusations of incompetence and a humiliating public dressing-down.
So after the trip, Sibu – then in her mid-30s and working in a senior ONE executive post – was relieved to be heading home to her family on January 16, 2015, as the pair waited in a private lounge at Julius Nyerere Airport.
Then an older Tanzanian MP walked in and started chatting to Moyo in Kiswahili, which Sibu does not speak. Moyo suddenly introduced Sibu – not her real name – in English as her daughter.
‘I was shocked when she said that – she hated my guts,’ said Sibu. ‘She said if he wanted to ask me out then he must run it past her.
‘He started to laugh but I was so confused. He was maybe 60 years old. After that he came to me as if to shake my hand but held it for such a long time, making me very uncomfortable.’ Sibu said that after asking why she was in Tanzania, and still clutching her hand, he joked about talking to her ‘mother’ since he wanted to see her again.
‘My face changed, but Moyo said, “Can you see how beautiful she is?” ’ said Sibu. ‘She was offering me to this guy.’
She was distressed and kept looking desperately at Moyo – but insists the charity chief just looked back and remarked again on her beauty.
‘I was not there to be beautiful but to work,’ said Sibu. ‘I did not know what to do.
‘I was afraid to say anything – and I have never been afraid of a boss before. I was an object. And the person doing this to me was another woman.’
Finally they boarded their plane. Sibu was seated across the aisle from the MP, who spent much of the four-hour flight asking if she was married and saying he had Moyo’s blessing.
‘I have no doubt I was being bartered, being offered for sex,’ she said. ‘I know about these things, I am a married woman.’
Sibu kept silent, even crying at one point, but said Moyo just kept joking with the MP. ‘It was the worst four hours of my life. When I landed, I left straight away.’
Her story was confirmed by a colleague on the trip. ‘She came to me distraught and I asked what happened,’ he said. ‘She told me, “My boss is pimping me off with a politician.’’ ’
Yet the ordeal was far from over. Sibu said Moyo warned her during the flight she would be fired if she refused to engage with the MP – and on February 12 this high-flying graduate was demoted to ‘office assistant’ with her salary slashed.
She walked out and on March 13 won an uncontested arbitration for unfair dismissal. Yet Sibu said the incident, coming after months of abuse and bullying, destroyed her career, her confidence, her trust and ultimately her marriage.
‘I still feel troubled. I used to be so bubbly, my life was rosy. Now I am haunted,’ she said. ‘I did not know I could be sold.’
Sibu believes Moyo wanted to use her to win influence with the Tanzanian government. ‘She wanted me to be her bait. It was so unethical, especially for ONE.’
She says the group’s relationship with the MP broke down after she refused to ‘entertain’ him.
Moyo denied the allegations: ‘They are a total fabrication. I said she was my daughter to protect her.’ She added that if there was a demotion, it was through ‘due process’ and handled by the US office – which is confirmed by emails and the contract.
Mail on Sunday