Kwekwe workers seek ED help in labour row

WORKERS at a Kwekwe-based explosives manufacturing firm, GML Explosives, have approached President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s office seeking help to stop Croatian investors from disposing off the company for purposes of “profiteering”.

BY RICHARD CHIDZA

In a letter addressed to the State Residencies director Douglas Tapfuma, workers’ representative John Mangezi accused the firm’s Croatian shareholders of planning to sell off GML Explosives in a murky deal that could leave workers “high and dry”.

“Over the past year, management and shareholders have been seen showing the Shamwari Plant to a number of people believed to be prospective investors or buyers. Employees have collected information that the foreign shareholders are trying to sell the company to new investors and leave Zimbabwe in a deal, it is feared, will leave them (employees) in the cold,” Mangezi said in the letter copied to Presidential Adviser Christopher Mutsvangwa.

“It is apparent that GML Explosives is now technically insolvent given that its liabilities exceed assets and the current shareholders are in the process of selling the company and skip the country.”

Tapfuma confirmed receiving the letter.

“I can confirm that I received the letter two weeks ago. However, I have been out of office and will be attending to that issue soon,” he said.

GML Explosives managing director Jairos Mushirivindi said he was unaware of the workers’ concerns.

“We have had no complaint regarding salaries for a year at least. We, however, acknowledge that we owe outstanding salaries,” he said.

Mushirivindi, however, later acknowledged receipt of the workers’ letter of complaint. “I have seen the letter. The contents are not true, that is why GML was not copied.”

According to Mangezi, GML management has been refusing to meet workers representatives to discuss and apprise employees on the problems bedevilling the company.

The workers claimed they were owed over $1,3 million in salary arrears dating back to 2012 when the Croatians bought the company from a group of local investors fronted by prominent lawyer Simplicious Chihambakwe.

The letter added that the company’s actions fly in the face of Mnangagwa’s mantra of business unusual since taking power in November last year.

“We believe that the company is insolvent and the new shareholders never had intentions of profitably operating the business, but had bought the company for speculative purpose with the aim and hope of reselling it at an opportune time. Obviously, such a move is counterproductive, does not create employment, neither does it create or save foreign currency. Unfortunately, this is contrary to the expectations and aspirations of the government’s policy of attracting new money from foreign direct investments,” the union said.

Mangezi told NewsDay that the situation was so dire that some families had been rendered destitute.

“Most are dying without getting their money. Children have dropped out of school, yet these Croatians are holding on to the company for speculative purposes. Something must be done,” he said.