Firm fires employee for speaking to press

HARARE - A quasi government firm has fired an employee for speaking to the Daily News about the company’s failure to pay salaries in February.

The Forestry Commission (FC), a once thriving concern, has confirmed firing the employee Doubt Bhunu, who was a member of the workers’ committee. The matter is now being viewed as a case of victimisation.

Bhunu was suspended without pay and benefits with effect from March 11, 2013 pending investigations and was subsequently dismissed on March 28 for “giving unauthorised press statements regarding commission business”.

In a letter to Bhunu from the commission’s depots and nurseries manager identified as G Mupanhwa, the commission accused him of damaging the image of the organisation by speaking to the press about the salaries issue.

“An article appeared in the Daily News dated March 7, 2013 alleging that the Forestry Commission had failed to pay February 2013 salaries to its employees.

The article further alleged that this was as a result of rampant corruption in the organisation and the reporter mentioned you as the source of the information.

“This article has caused damage to the image of the organisation which can affect its relationship with clients and suppliers. You falsely alleged that the Forestry Commission failed to pay its employees contrary to evidence that all employees got their salaries well before this article came out,” reads part of the suspension letter to Bhunu written a day after publication of the story.

In the story, Bhunu was speaking in his capacity as a workers’ representative.

Violet Makoto, the ZFC information and communications manager told the Daily News yesterday that Bhunu’s sacking was justified.

“The letter you are referring to has actually been overtaken by events as the employee in question was dismissed from employment on Thursday last week. Communicating internal issues to the public is not in line with what is spelt out in his contract of employment hence his dismissal,” she said.

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