via Masimirembwa in fresh storm – NewsDay Zimbabwe by John Nyashanu/Everson Mushava October 9, 2013
FORMER Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation (ZMDC) chairman Godwills Masimirembwa has been caught in a fresh storm after it emerged he bussed youths from Mabvuku to work in a security firm offering services in Chiadzwa during his tenure as the ZMDC boss.
In a suspected case of conflict of interest, it has also emerged that Masimirembwa engaged the same security firm, National Eye — guarding the ZMDC subsidiary’s premises at Chiadzwa diamond fields in Manicaland — to provide security services at his farm in Beatrice.
The diamond mining company, Marange Resources, is wholly-owned by government through ZMDC.
National Eye Security Company was reportedly owned by Tapson Madzivire, who is believed to be Masimirembwa’s ally with strong Zanu PF connections.
Yesterday, Madzivire confirmed that apart from Masimirembwa, scores of top Zanu PF officials had approached him to employ party youths during the election campaign period.
The ex-ZMDC chair was recently fingered by President Robert Mugabe in a $6 million bribery scandal involving a Ghanaian investor.
But, in an interview with NewsDay on Monday, Masimirembwa claimed there was nothing sinister about the arrangement.
Although Masimirembwa denied links to or underhand dealings with the security firm, he admitted he pressed the firm to employ youths from Mabvuku-Tafara constituency in Harare, where he contested on a Zanu PF ticket, but lost to MDC-T’s James Maridadi in the July 31 harmonised elections.
“The crime is that I just tried to help a few youths get employment,” Masimirembwa told NewsDay.
“I only referred less than 15 youths to Madzivire and I am made to understand that most of them have been fired due to indiscipline. For security at my farm, I also hire services from National Eye, like any other clients.”
Madzivire refuted allegations that Masimirembwa had interests in his security company, but admitted to employing youths seconded by the former ZMDC boss.
“It is unfortunate that it could imply that I got the deal from Masimirembwa under unclear circumstances, but he is not the only one I helped,” Madzivire said, adding: “A lot of politicians approached me with youths for employment during the campaign period.”
National Eye security firm is currently embroiled in a labour dispute with its employees at Chiadzwa diamond fields who claim to have gone for four months without salaries. The security guards also alleged that they were being subjected to inhuman treatment.
The workers have already approached the National Employment Council (NEC) for Security where they highlighted their concerns at a meeting in Harare last Friday between the NEC and National Eye management.
Apart from being owed four months’ salaries, the security guards also claimed they were made to work for 10 consecutive days. They further claimed to have been made to work for 21 days every month since 2010, instead of 16 days as prescribed by labour laws.
“We are fed on a very small portion of sadza served with very small pieces of meat or few kapenta (fish) after 16 consecutive days of sadza and cabbage in tiny lunch boxes. We are given plain tea for breakfast,” one source said.
The security guards were also reportedly not given pay advice slips and alleged they did not have a specific pay date.
They alleged there was rampant victimisation of workers to suppress dissenting voices by the owners of the company, a charge Madzivire denied, saying he was being framed by some workers he fired over indiscipline.
“We don’t tolerate indiscipline,” Madzivire said.
Madzivire, whose company is in partnership with a South African firm, said he only owed the employees April salaries.