MPs fume over ZCTU Nssa board seat

HARARE - Opposition legislators have blasted Public Service minister Prisca Mupfumira over the expulsion of Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) president Peter Mutasa from the National Social Security Authority (Nssa) board.

Mutasa was fired for allegedly failing to uphold confidentiality of the board’s discussions.

MDC House of Assembly representative for Bulawayo Central Dorcas Sibanda grilled Mupfumira in Parliament last week, questioning her why Nssa board members were being fired without good reason.

“Is it government policy or is it in the ministry’s policies that board members are removed from the board because they belong to certain organisations? The reason why I am asking this question is because of the ZCTU president who is being removed from the Nssa board. Why is he being removed from the Nssa board?” she queried.

However, Mupfumira argued that she reserved the right to appoint or fire board members.

“It is government policy that boards are appointed and removed by a minister. It is also in the Nssa Act that the board is tripartite; workers, employers and government.  It is also a normal board requirement that confidentiality is kept within a board,” she said.

“In terms of the Act, if a member carries acts of misconduct, the minister can remove the member. It is not our policy to discriminate against any trade union. If we remove any member, we will request that particular organisation to give us new names, which is the normal procedure and that is what we will do,” Mupfumira said.

Relations between government and ZCTU were strained after the union, together with 40 other civil society groups, spearheaded the formation of MDC in 1999.

The opposition party’s top leadership came from the labour movement.

MDC legislator for Kuwadzana East Nelson Chamisa alleged Mupfumira violated International Labour Organisation (ILO) statutes by removing the ZCTU president from the Nssa board.

“My supplementary question has to do with the rights that are in the Constitution, particularly Section 65 (2), that trade union leaders are supposed to be protected,” the MDC vice president said.

“This is not just a constitutional right but it is also a right that flows from ILO statutes that we are part to as member countries. Are we not violating the rights of a trade union leader who is legitimately exercising his responsibilities in terms of the law?” he questioned.

But Mupfumira argued there are certain regulations imposed on any board member.

“If a board member carries acts of misconduct, if he does not work well within the board, the minister is at liberty to remove the board member.

“It is not employment. ILO — we are talking about employment.  Boards are at the pleasure of whoever the appointing authorities are,” she said.

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