NRZ given 7-day ultimatum

BULAWAYO - The Affirmative Action Group (AAG) has petitioned the National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ) chairman Larry Mavhima over what it says is a “deliberate” delay in appointing a general manager at the cash-strapped parastatal.

The pressure group gave NRZ a seven-day ultimatum to fill the post of general manager.

NRZ has been operating without a substantive general manager since 2013 following the death of Mike Karakadzai.

In a letter dated April 22, AAG said the delay in appointing a substantive general manager simply indicates that there is little or no interest in reviving the struggling rail transport company.

“The NRZ is a national asset ...The impact of its demise has been felt in all facets of society, social and economic with adverse effects on communication (transportation), cost of living, development, (and) industry,” read part of the letter written by AGG principal officer Silani Mtshiya.

He said the developments were clear that there has been a “cavalier and nonchalant” approach to the national transporter.

“This, without doubt, presents a corporate governance nightmare and a haven for corruption. As the board of directors, and the ministry of Transport, it becomes increasingly clear that there is little interest in the revival of the national transporter, corruption being the actual intent.

“Such corporate governance inadequacies are the reason why NRZ is in its current state and we, therefore, are giving you seven days to install a managing director, failing which necessary measures will be employed accordingly.”

Mtshiya however said through the Alternative Conflict Resolution Centre, they were prepared to engage all parties so as to find a mutually beneficial solution.

Meanwhile, NRZ has taken its 942 workers, who downed tools last month over non-payment of their salaries, to court for refusing to return to work despite a show cause order.

The NRZ workers across the country downed tools bringing to a halt operations including the transportation of imported wheat and drought relief maize.

The minister of Labour Prisca Mupfumira two weeks ago ordered the disgruntled NRZ employees to return to work pending the determination of the matter.

Mupfumira issued the order following last month’s application at the Labour Court by the NRZ management for a show cause order in terms of the Labour Act.

In its application filed on Tuesday through lawyers, NRZ management said the strike by its workers was illegal, arguing that they failed to give the mandatory 14 days notice to their employer for their intention to engage in a collective job action.

But the workers, who are owed more than $80 million in unpaid salaries, through their lawyer Munyaradzi Gwisai, said the collective job action that prompted the show cause order was a spontaneous action in response to an immediate occupational hazard which was a threat to their safety, health and human dignity.

They also argued that the strike was their right under section 65 (3) of the Constitution to defend the violation of their right by their employer.

Labour Court Judge Justice Evangelista Kabasa postponed the hearing to Friday to afford the parties an opportunity to make representations in the matter.

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