Kereke fails to pay workers

HARARE - Employees of Rock Foundation Medical Centre in Harare yesterday began an indefinite sit-in strike to press their demands for salaries.

Workers at the Mt Pleasant-based hospital are demanding, among other things, arrears in salaries of up to seven months. Patients who came to the hospital were disappointed as dozens of workers refused to work.

Fuming workers who spoke to the Daily News said they have been getting “bits and pieces” of their salaries.

Rock Foundation Hospital owner Munyaradzi Kereke said he had failed to pay his workers because medical insurance companies owed him over $1,2 million.

But workers said the hospital owners had showed no regard for their welfare.

“The last time they gave us $20, what do you do with $20?” said one fuming worker who spoke on condition of anonymity fearing victimisation. “We have been getting bits and pieces, sometimes $20 sometimes $50. We want all our money.”

Another worker said it was surprising that the company claims it does not have money and yet Kereke was sponsoring several charity events.

“They say they have no money but on Saturday we know Kereke is funding the Miss Universities, and the winner is getting a car,” said another worker. “The models were here yesterday.”

It was not immediately clear if indeed Kereke is funding the winning prize, a Nissan March, for the Miss Universities which is scheduled for Ochi City on Saturday night. But last year, he offered the 28 finalists for Miss Universities free breast cancer screening and dental therapy as part of the sponsorship package.

Striking workers were yesterday addressed by the clinic director Darlington Zhakata and the human resources manager Andrew Chigerwe, who both told them there was no money.

Kereke said he was moving to solve the problem, and said this was a structural problem that must be resolved at government level.

“The RMC Hospital is owed over $1,2 million by medical aids, of which government’s PSMAS accounts for $550 000,” Kereke told the Daily News.

“Treasury is saying they are dry while other medical aids are saying the law allows them to delay payments by up to 120 days. I am 100 percent behind my workers who have endured for too long. We are lobbying government to urgently work out needful reforms.”

Kereke, a former a dvisor to Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe governor Gideon Gono who left the Central Bank in January, said he was rolling out Plan B, and will access funds from his other farming ventures to bankroll the employees’ outstanding salaries.

“As investors, we are very confident that this transitory hurdle will be resolved soon through active engagement with government,” he said.

“We are there to serve and save lives so that the sick are not denied their constitutional right to life.”

The economics expert said the $20 he had paid the workers came after a long time, and said he fully understood his workers’ plight.

“The $20 you mentioned is in fact an overstatement as in some cases my team has gone for months without payment. I am very hopeful that within two or three days, this issue will have been resolved,” Kereke said. - Gift Phiri

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