FORMER First Lady Grace Mugabe has been sucked into a raging dispute between workers and management at Zesa Holdings with a demonstration set for December 20 over the issue, NewsDay reported.
In a flurry of letters seen by NewsDay between the Energy Sector Workers’ Union of Zimbabwe (ESWUZ), management and the permanent secretary for Energy Patson Mbiriri, there are accusations of corrupt dealings involving senior officials at Zesa, Zanu PF and government.
On November 27, ESWUZ general secretary Gibson Mushunje wrote to Zesa chief executive officer Joshua Chifamba demanding accountability and good corporate governance or risk industrial action.
Businessman Wicknell Chivayo, who had strong links to Grace, is cited as the reason for the impending demonstration. He was awarded a tender of $5 million, but is yet to deliver.
“Numerous labour disputes major amongst them the refusal by yourselves to honour the 2012 collective bargaining outcome as you chose to bankroll activities of the infamous G40 reactionary group by way of purchasing a bus for (former First Lady) Grace Mugabe purportedly for Danhiko (Project), and issuing free electricity benefits to the (then) Minister of Energy and his entire Ministry officials at an irrecoverable cost to the public,” Mushunje said.
Grace is patron of Danhiko Project.
According to the workers, the refusal by management to regularise the employment contracts of workers who have served the institution for more than 10 years had resulted in the “re-enactment of the 1924 Rhodesian Master and Servant Act at Zesa Holdings”.
The workers also cite the “stinking corruption” linking the parastatal’s bosses and former minister Samuel Undenge, for a public relations project involving Oscar Pambuka and Zanu PF lawmaker Psychology Maziwisa remained unexplained despite Zesa having a full communications department.
“The pending purchase of Prados, Fortuners and Range Rovers, whose tenders have been floated, be put on ice and prioritise re-tooling, re-equipping and replacing of vintage trucks which were bought between 1989-1991. Also the purchase of (VW) Amarok trucks for minister Undenge and his permanent secretary (Patson) Mbiriri must be investigated with the trucks being returned to the organisation,” the letter said.
“Money given to the Graces, Chivayos, Undenges and Pambukas of this world would have seen (the) purchase of pre-paid meters for all customers as they are the bedrock of revenue collection. As it stands, those who have been perceived to be politically correct, ie G40, have been accessing these meters and selling the same to the public for $300”.
In response, however, Mbiriri warned the workers’ body to be wary of rumours and indicated Chifamba had been ordered to respond to the allegations and demands.
He denied receiving a car from Zesa.
“I am personally stunned by the falsehood that VW Amarok trucks were purchased for the then minister and his permanent secretary. When were they bought and where are they?” he queried.
On December 8, Zesa head of corporate services, identified as R Pasipanodya, in response to Mushunje’s letter also demanded documentary proof of the purchase of vehicles and other allegations made.