via $4m Army debt shuts down firm, 100 fired – New Zimbabwe 01/09/2015
MARONDERA: A local shoe manufacturing company has stopped production and is on the verge of collapse after the army, Airforce, police and prisons failed to service a combined $4 million debt they owe the company for combat boots.
Workers at the Italian-owned Eagle Shoe and Leather said management has since informed them not to report for work as the company was failing to recapitalise due to the non-payment by the defence forces.
The combat boots are reported to have been delivered in 2013 to the Zimbabwe National Army (ZNA), Air Force of Zimbabwe (AFZ), Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) and Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Services.
“We have not been reporting for work for more than a month now as the company’s management says it is facing serious operational challenges as some of its major clients – the army, prisons and the police are failing to pay for combat boots supplied,” a worker at the company said.
The source said over 100 workers had been affected by the move while last December another 100 workers were laid off as the company cited viability problems.
The worker said a pair of the combat boots sold to the defence forces was costing $70 and an estimated 57 000 boots were delivered to the three government departments.
“We have not been getting our salaries for the past four months as the company says it has no money due to non-payment by the defence forces and as a result we are living in abject poverty and failing to send our children to school,” the worker said.
He said before the economic crunch being experienced in the country, Eagle Shoe and Leather used to produce over 500 pairs of shoes a day.
In her 2013 report, Mildred Chiri, the Auditor General said the AFZ and ZNA since 2011 have been reluctant to hand over their asset register for audit despite the national treasury allocating the defence ministry $35 million to pay its service providers.
Chiri said the ministry did not receive confirmation of payments and the disbursed funds could not be accounted for an indication that the uniformed services might have been allocated money to pay service providers but diverted it.