Mliswa paying workers a loaf of bread as wages

The company alleges it is unable to pay them due to viability problems.  

The bakery is owned by former Rugby player and fitness trainer Themba Mliswa, a Zanu PF thug leading a wave of violence in the Mashonaland provinces.

A loaf of bread in Zimbabwe costs 50 US cents.

The workers said the lowest grade worker is supposed to earn US$100 monthly.

The workers now say they face evictions from their houses as they are failing to pay rent.

Chinhoyi town is situated about 120 kilometers north-west of Harare.

Nearly 60 workers in Karoi town, a further 88 kilometers are also facing the same fate as their Chinhoyi counterparts.

In Karoi town, workers said their workshop had been closed and another production shift of 20 people forced to go on unpaid leave last month. There were two shifts at the bakery.

Every worker who is owed outstanding salaries is getting a loaf of bread daily.

”We believe management will sort this mess and we get our salaries soon,” said a female worker in Karoi. ”We no longer have delivery trucks as all are grounded with drivers and mechanics forced to go on unpaid leave. Currently we are using a taxi for local deliveries and no rural deliveries. It’s unfortunate that the festive season is coming without signs of improving working conditions for us.”

Federation of Food Workers Union national organiser Joseph Kunashe said they had taken the workers’ concerns to the Ministry of Labour.

”We took the matter to Ministry of Labour and it was referred for arbitration on 1 December. When we earlier talked to Harambe chief executive officer, David Govera, he had promised to pay all the workers what was due to them but nothing has been done yet” said Kunashe.

Kunashe added workers will continue going to work until they are paid or the case is heard by the arbitrator.

Govera said,” There are challenges of low production but we will pay all what is due soon,” before hanging up his mobile phone and switching it off.

Zimbabwe, which is importing wheat, is also currently facing acute shortage of electricity. Major towns are getting electricity for less than 8 hours.”

The situation is now getting out of hand and we expect to get our salaries in full, but nothing has happened yet,” said another worker.

”We are facing evictions by our landlords due to non-payment of rents and its disappointing …all we are getting from our employer is a loaf of bread daily and it’s not enough for food, rentals and other financial obligations we have to meet,” added another worker.

Mliswa’s Harambe Holdings group is a beneficiary of the government’s black empowerment drive and owns other companies such as Intertech Foods, Glendale Springs, Vanel Tiles, Eco Plastic, Global Marketing, Superbake, Downings Bakery and Freshbakery.