Pakistani businessman flees workplace

BULAWAYO - A Pakistani businessman who is at the centre of an externalisation storm was this week forced to flee his company premises and seek refuge at Bulawayo Central Police Station after irate former employees besieged the firm demanding their dues.

Imran Shahzad, director of Bulk Cash and Carry Wholesalers (BCCW) is embroiled in a messy fight with one of his former managers who claims he has externalised millions of dollars.

Oga Chafausipo, who was employed as operations manager at BCCW, apart from making claims of externalisation against Shahzad, alleged that the Pakistani businessman was enjoying protection from authorities due to his association with former vice president Phelekezela Mphoko and war veteran George Mlala.

On Monday, Shahzad fled BCCW when a group of about 100 former employees turned up with a labour officer demanding their terminal benefits. Shahzad could not be reached for comment yesterday.

According to a union representative, Patrick Ndlovu, the former workers are owed between $2 000 and $30 000 each.

“Most of these people were dismissed without any notices, some of them were suspended and remained suspended up to date. 

"I engaged Imran over the matter and he tells me that there is a dispute where he says there was a company called Navvy Time which owned the employees but the employees are disputing that saying they were employed by Bulk Commodities,” said Ndlovu, a Commercial Workers Union of Zimbabwe senior organising regional secretary for Matabeleland.

“So every time we are reporting this case either to the employment council or the ministry of Labour, the issue which is coming up is that these employees were employed by Navvy Time and not Bulk Commodities

So we are here that he (Shahzad) clarifies this position once and for all. Unfortunately, when I met him he failed to give me an answer,” added Ndlovu.

Chafausipo who was part of the employees who besieged the company claimed he was owed $30 000.

“All what we need is for the workers to be paid in full. We worked tirelessly to build this company to what it is now and no one got his leave money...overtime and are owed even hospital (medical contribution) fees," said Chafausipo.

He dismissed claims that employees belonged to Navvy Time. “That organisation recruits workers on behalf of the wholesaler, the workers perform duty at the wholesale and they are supposed to be paid by the wholesaler under the statutory labour laws of Zimbabwe.

“He (Shahzad) is now failing to pay the workers and is now looking for scapegoats saying Navvy Time is the one that should pay yet they ceased to operate way back in 2008,” said Chafausipo.

BCCW and Shahzad have been accused of externalisng millions of dollars by Chafausipo who last week petitioned President Emmerson Mnangagwa to institute a probe into the allegations.

Early this year, Chafausipo claimed Mphoko was shielding the BCCW director. Externalisation constitutes a serious crime in Zimbabwe under the Money Laundering and Proceeds of Crime Act (Chapter 9:24), are contained in an affidavit lodged by BCCW’s operations manager, Chafausipo, who was suspended from the company early this year.

In his signed affidavit submitted to investigating officers at Bulawayo Central Headquarters on February 17, 2017, Chafausipo makes serious allegations of externalisation against BCCW, which is in the business of repackaging basic commodities such as rice, flour and cooking oil before reselling them to retailers in Zimbabwe’s second city.

He claimed the company, which dismissed the allegations in their entirety this week, is involved in externalisation of funds, smuggling of goods, tax evasion and sale of substandard or expired goods. Chafausipo alleged he witnessed firsthand on two separate occasions how over $8 million was separately externalised by Shahzad.