13 Mar 2018

I would want to welcome you members of the Press to this Press Conference. As you have been informed, we are here to brief you on the anti-union activities that are taking place at ZESA.

The ZCTU has received with disgust the purported suspension of eight union officials, without salaries and benefits, by the Zimbabwe Electricity Distribution Company (ZETDC), a subsidiary of the Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (ZESA), on 6 March 2018 for allegedly being involved in a demonstration.

The suspended unionists are from the Energy Sector Workers Union of Zimbabwe (ESWUZ) and among them ZCTU 1st Vice-President Florence Taruvinga. Others are Admire Mudzonga, Gibson Mushunje (the union General Secretary), Ackim Mzilikazi, Stephen Mwoyoweshumba, Tariro Shumba, Given Dingwiza and Johannes Chingoriwo.

They have been suspended pending a disciplinary hearing for a demonstrations that took place at the ZESA Head office on 21 December 2017. These demonstration were cleared by the police. Before the action, there were efforts by ZESA to apply for a Show Cause Order, but this was scrapped off the roll by Judge Manyangadze at the Labour Court.

As you are aware, the demonstrations were basically on the corruption that is prevalent at ZESA such as the awarding of tenders to dubious characters like Wicknell Chivhayo and people like Highfield National Assembly Member of Parliament Psychology Maziwisa and former ZBC News anchor Oscar Pambuka. The workers wanted the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (ZACC) to take action.

Workers, through their union, were the first to raise the redflag over corruption at ZESA. They even wrote to the State president as well as ZACC. We believe it is such action that led management to suspend them in order to cover up their shenanigans.

The action by ZETDC is nothing but pure victimization of trade unionists which is unacceptable under the Labour Act. More so, the ZCTU views this as a clear intimidation tactic by the employer to silence the voice of workers. By targeting the leadership of the union, the management want to instill fear in the hearts of all workers at ZESA. The Constitution of Zimbabwe is very clear on the right of workers to demonstrate and ZETDC cannot be seen to be working against the Zimbabwean constitution.

ZETDC is playing with fire and they should be aware that where the existence of a trade union is under threat, the whole workforce have the right to embark on a strike. We demand an immediate reinstatement, with all benefits, of the suspended officials. The ZCTU will not stand by and watch as an arrogant and overzealous employer plays around with its members. We will take every measure at our disposal to make sure that the officials are back at work.

The ZCTU is going to write to the state President, Emmerson Mnangagwa, to intervene as well as the Parliamentary Portfolio Committees on Labour and Energy over the ill advised decision by ZESA to suspend the union leaders. We are prepared to picket at Parliament to make sure that this is reversed.

We will not hesitate to take the matter to the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) and the International Labour organisation (ILO) as this is a clear anti-union stance as well as victimization of labour leaders. We will take the fight beyond our borders and ask our sister unions in SADC if need be so that ZESA is censored.



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