The Zimbabwe Electricity Transmission and Distribution Company (ZETDC) have suspended one of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) Vice Presidents over a demonstration against corruption at the parastatal including the awarding of a tender to Wicknell Chivhayo.
ZCTU First Vice President, Florence Taruvinga, a ZETDC technician, was suspended without benefits on March 6, pending a disciplinary hearing for allegedly taking part in a demonstration held at the ZESA Head Offices last year.
Taruvinga was suspended along with other Energy Sector Workers Union of Zimbabwe executive members Gibson Mushunje (the union General Secretary), Admire Mudzonga, Ackim Mzilikazi, Stephen Mwoyoweshumba, Tariro Shumba, Given Dingwiza and Johannes Chingoriwo.
Addressing a press conference in Harare, ZCTU Secretary General Japhet Moyo said the suspensions of the union executives were tantamount to victimization of trade unionists, which was unacceptable under the Labour Act Chapter 28:01.
"As you are aware, the demonstrations were basically on the corruption that is prevalent at ZESA such as the awarding of tenders to dubious characters like Wicknell Chivhayo and people like Highfield National Assembly Member of Parliament Psychology Maziwisa and former ZBC News anchor Oscar Pambuka. The workers wanted the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (ZACC) to take action.
"Workers, through their union, were the first to raise the red flag over corruption at ZESA. They even wrote to the State president as well as to ZACC. We believe it is such action that led management to suspend them in order to cover up their shenanigans," he said.
Moyo said management at ZESA was trying to instil fear and silence workers, noting that the said demonstration had been sanctioned by the police.
"This demonstration was cleared by the police. Before the action, there were efforts by ZESA to apply for a Show Cause Order, but this was scrapped off the roll by Judge Dominic Manyangadze at the Labour Court," Moyo said.
He added; "More so, the ZCTU views this as a clear intimidation tactic by the employer to silence the voice of workers. By targeting the leadership of the union, the management wants to instil fear in the hearts of all workers at ZESA. The Constitution of Zimbabwe is very clear on the right of workers to demonstrate and ZETDC cannot be seen to be working against the Zimbabwean constitution."
The ZCTU boss demanded the immediate reinstatement of the workers, warning that they would approach President Emmerson Mnangagwa and also raise the issue with the International Trade Union Congress and the International Labour Organisation.
Moyo said the ZCTU will soon be approaching the anti-graft body to compel them to investigate management at the power utility, saying the labour body was surprised that ZACC was yet to take action when all the rot at ZESA had been exposed in parliament.
"The ZCTU is going to write to the state President to intervene as well as the Parliamentary Portfolio Committees on Labour and Energy over the ill-advised decision by ZESA to suspend the union leaders. We are prepared to picket at Parliament to make sure that this is reversed," he said.