STAFF REPORTER 15 March 2018
HARARE – A union leader that led demonstrations against the State power
utility after wage talks stalled appeared in court yesterday.
National Energy Workers Union of Zimbabwe (Newuz) secretary-general Thomas
Masvingwe is charged with failure to comply with right to resort to
collective job action in contravention of section 104 (3) (a) (i) as read
with sections 109(1) of the Labour Act.
Zesa Holdings (Zesa) had branded the stoppage illegal but said its
operations had not been affected.
The stoppage was the latest problem to beset the cash-strapped power
utility, which has struggled to meet power demand in Zimbabwe due to its
ageing power plants and grid although of late it has managed some months
without the rolling blackouts that have hurt the economy in the past.
Masvingwe, 53, was represented by Lovemore Madhuku when he appeared before
Harare magistrate Tilda Mazhande.
Zesa provides almost all the power in the Zimbabwean economy, which is on
the verge of recession and already grappling with a power deficit.
Prosecutor Sabastian Mutizirwa alleged that on February 9, Masvingwe in
his capacity as secretary-general of Newuz connived with his accomplices
who are still at large and proceeded to Zesa offices along Samora Machel
According to State papers, Masvingwe was aware that Zesa provides an
“essential service” in terms of Statutory Instrument 137/2003 of the
Labour (Declaration of Essential Services) Notice 2003 of Zimbabwe.
The court heard that Masvingwe incited Zesa employees to demonstrate
against their employer contrary to labour regulations.
It was alleged that Masvingwe in the company of protesters were beating
drums, singing songs, and displayed placards inscribed: “2012 CBA IS OUR
RIGHT!!”, “PAY NOW OR TOOLS DOWN”, “PAY 2012 OR THIS WILL NOT END”; “IF
YOU DON’T PAY WE WILL NOT WORK”.
Masvingwe allegedly blocked the main entrance to the building and emptied
garbage that was in the bins at the front of Zesa offices reception and
interrupted business of the day.
The court heard that Masvingwe was identified by witnesses committing the
offence and was reported to the police. Masvingwe and his accomplices
dispersed after the Police Reaction Group arrived at the scene and dropped
various placards which were recovered and will be used as exhibits.