Union leader in court over Zesa strike

HARARE - A union leader that led demonstrations against the State power utility after wage talks stalled appeared in court yesterday.

National Energy Workers Union of Zimbabwe (Newuz) secretary-general Thomas Masvingwe is charged with failure to comply with right to resort to collective job action in contravention of section 104 (3) (a) (i) as read with sections 109(1) of the Labour Act.

Zesa Holdings (Zesa) had branded the stoppage illegal but said its operations had not been affected.

The stoppage was the latest problem to beset the cash-strapped power utility, which has struggled to meet power demand in Zimbabwe due to its ageing power plants and grid although of late it has managed some months without the rolling blackouts that have hurt the economy in the past.

Masvingwe, 53, was represented by Lovemore Madhuku when he appeared before Harare magistrate Tilda Mazhande.

Zesa provides almost all the power in the Zimbabwean economy, which is on the verge of recession and already grappling with a power deficit.

Prosecutor Sabastian Mutizirwa alleged that on February 9, Masvingwe in his capacity as secretary-general of Newuz connived with his accomplices who are still at large and proceeded to Zesa offices along Samora Machel Avenue.

According to State papers, Masvingwe was aware that Zesa provides an “essential service” in terms of Statutory Instrument 137/2003 of the Labour (Declaration of Essential Services) Notice 2003 of Zimbabwe.

The court heard that Masvingwe incited Zesa employees to demonstrate against their employer contrary to labour regulations.

It was alleged that Masvingwe in the company of protesters were beating drums, singing songs, and displayed placards inscribed: “2012 CBA IS OUR RIGHT!!”, “PAY NOW OR TOOLS DOWN”, “PAY 2012 OR THIS WILL NOT END”; “IF YOU DON’T PAY WE WILL NOT WORK”.

Masvingwe allegedly blocked the main entrance to the building and emptied garbage that was in the bins at the front of Zesa offices reception and interrupted business of the day.

The court heard that Masvingwe was identified by witnesses committing the offence and was reported to the police. Masvingwe and his accomplices dispersed after the Police Reaction Group arrived at the scene and dropped various placards which were recovered and will be used as exhibits.

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