via China Cotton Africa fires senior managers | The Herald 12 November 2014
CHINA Cotton Africa, one of Zimbabwe’s biggest cotton merchants, last month dismissed several senior managers including country head, Mr Cuthbert Chakanyuka.
Some of the casualties have already approached the Labour Court, claiming unfair and “gross violation” of some provisions of the labour laws. Mr Chakanyuka has since been replaced by Mr Decent Chitsungo, a former director at Cargill’s local cotton division.
Mr Chitsungo was recruited on pretex that he would head Cotton Holdings, Zimbabwe’s largest cotton company, which China Cotton Africa intends to buy, sources said.
“He was appointed as deputy country head in preparation for redeployment to Cottco,” said one source who requested not to be identified.
“But things just changed when Mr Chakanyuka’s contract was prematurely terminated for frivolous reasons. He was then appointed the country head following the departure of Mr Chakanyuka.”
Mr Chitsungo could not be reached for a comment by the time of going to print yesterday. Mr Chakanyuka confirmed termination of his contract but could not shed more light.
Also dismissed was Mr Admore Matsvaire who was operations director, Mr Takavingei Masiye, area manager for Karoi, Mr Brian Dzapasi, North East manager based in Dotito, Mr Richard Machingura, area manager for Kadoma, Mr Fungisai Chakafana, finance manager and Mr Jeffrey Mukumba, information technology manager.
“They are dismissing most of the people they started with and all these dismissals were effected in just one month,” another source said.
Mr Mukumba, and other managers, have since approached the Labour Court challenging their “unfair dismissal”.
Mr Mukumba is claiming that before he was dismissed, his former employer deliberately came up with malicious charges to frustrate him.
“They forced me to resign several times without citing any misconduct and even persuaded me to enter into a mutual agreement to terminate the employment contract,” said Mr Mukumba.
“The employer has now embarked on casualisation of labour and has done this to five other senior management employees and more might encounter similar fate.
The employer has embarked on a retrenchment exercise and is hiding behind a certain clause in our contract and does not want to pay retrenchment packages as stipulated by the law that if you make redundant five or more employees you need to pay them retrenchment packages.”
Last year, China Cotton Africa invested about $4,8 million in cotton production and intends to substantially scale down its investment to $1,3 million this year. The company, which commenced operations in Zimbabwe last year, also acquired Fahad Investment assets, another cotton merchant. It also bought two ginneries in Glendale and Gweru, previously owned by Cottco for about $3 million. China Africa has asked for more time to study a proposal by Cottco Holdings prior to its takeover.