8 November 2012

Zimbabwe: Chapungu Gallery Workers Cry Foul

Workers at Chapungu Arts Gallery face a bleak Christmas with no hope in sight of ever getting paid. The gigantic Chapungu Sculpture Park, which for years has been battling financial woes, faces imminent closure as the coffers have run dry and is facing liquidation. The gallery owes workers over US$150 000.

The High Court has since approved the liquidation of the gallery and pieces on display will go sale.

The gallery has helped in nurturing the country's top sculptors such as as Dominic Benhura, Locardia Ndandarika, Taylor Nkomo, among several others.

Roy Guthrie founded Chapungu gallery in 1970 and since then the institution has managed to promote Zimbabwean stone sculpture locally and internationally.

A sorry sight engulfed Herald Entertainment crew when they arrived at the site as workers narrated their ordeal with some going for months without getting payment.

"I have worked for more than 10 years here and I don't have anywhere to go but I haven't received my salary for the past six months," narrated one worker.

"We have children and failing to make end meets. My wife and children have since relocated to my rural area since I now rent a single room.

"We thought things would improve by the introduction of the multiple currency regime but it has worsened," said another worker only identified as Gwelo.

The chairman of the workers' committee, Garikai Chakaipa, who has been working for Chapungu for the past 20 years, was in despair over the liquidation of the gallery.

"We were last paid last November and no hope is in sight for us. I don't know how we are going to survive," said Chakaipa.

He also said the news of the closure has unsettled other workers.

"Now the problem that we have is that we are only hearing through the rumour mill that the owner of this place wants to liquidate the company, but he hasn't engaged us as workers so that we air our views to him and help him map the way forward," he said.

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