22 September 2013

Zimbabwe: MDC-T Fires More Workers

Photo: MDC-T
Morgan Tsvangirai resting at his home with wife Elizabeth Macheka

THE embattled MDC-T party has fallen on hard times and is in the process of retrenching 55 of its estimated 150 staff members due to financial problems, it has emerged.

Sources at Harvest House said the MDC-T had already notified the affected staff members that their services were no longer required after the party failed to dislodge Zanu PF from power in the July 31 elections.

An official said some of the affected staff members, including departmental heads, had been promised top government positions, had the MDC-T won.

"But unfortunately, the party lost and its coffers are now dry as donors have stopped funding the MDC-T after losing the elections," he said.

Another official said the affected employees were in the process of being paid retrenchment packages equivalent to their three month's salaries.

"Workers' anticipation for good jobs' in government has been replaced by dejection. After the party lost the elections, their firing is like putting the final nail into the coffin," said the official.

The affected workers, the sources said, include former intelligence operative, Pearson Mbalekwa who last week claimed to have quit the party, yet he had already been relieved of his duties.

Among those earmarked to leave include the likes of Gandi Mudzingwa, who was a principal director in the Prime Minister's office and former journalist, William Bango.

MDC-T spokesperson, Douglas Mwonzora yesterday referred all human resources related questions to secretary-general, Tendai Biti.

But the former Finance minister was not reachable on his phone.

Meanwhile, a cloud of uncertainty hangs over the fate of the 12 former MDC-T security agents who were dismissed in 2010 but have not received their dues as specified by an arbitral award granted to them last year.

After a protracted legal battle, they were granted an arbitral award by the labour tribunal which directed the MDC-T to either reinstate or pay them off.

Arbitrator, Duncan Mudzengi ruled that indeed the 12 had been unfairly dismissed. But he said the claim of US$181 350 being claimed by the applicants was "tantamount to unjust enrichment".

MDC-T lawyers, Honey and Blanckenberg applied for quantification of damages but no progress has been realised.

Legal counsel of the fired workers, Obert Mawadze of Manase and Manase blamed the arbitrator for not pushing for the matter to be resolved quickly.

"We have been calling him, but he is being evasive and we now wonder what his motive is," he said. "I have instructed my clients to also call him and seek clarity because we are in the dark, as far as the holdup is concerned."

But Mudzengi said he was still waiting for submissions from the MDC-T lawyers.

Speaking to some of the former security officers, they said the matter had taken too long and they were now worried that something untoward was happening behind the scenes.

"We are particularly concerned because we hear that some former employers who are not part of this group have already been paid by the party," said one of the aggrieved members.

MDC-T human resources officer, Tafadzwa Chakanyuka declined to comment, saying he would get in touch with the party's spokesperson on Monday and try to organise an interview.

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