Daniel Nemukuyu Senior Reporter
AT least 30 people who were employed by a parallel office of the former Prime Minister during the Inclusive Government are wallowing in poverty as they failed to get retrenchment packages and outstanding salaries following the phasing out of the office after elections.
The workers, who operated from Mr Morgan Tsvangirai’s Bath Road offices in Avondale, Harare, said they were promised jobs in Government in the event that MDC-T won the polls but they were dumped after the party lost dismally.
Most of the workers are from the communication, research and security departments. They were funded by the Institute of Democratic Alternative of Zimbabwe (IDAZ) and some undisclosed donors.
They argued that when Mr Tsvangirai addressed them before elections he promised that they would get packages if the party lost the election but since September they claim they have not been paid their salaries.
It is the workers’ belief that there was an abuse of the donor funds by two of the party’s bigwigs (names supplied) resulting in the failure by the party to pay them.
“For the past two months we have never received any salaries. The funds were released by the donors but we believe some two top guys in the party abused it as they reportedly bought themselves top-of-the-range vehicles and properties in town.
“We see some of them driving the vehicles believed to have been bought by the money that should have come to us,” said the worker who declined to be named for security reasons.
Another source said Mr Tsvangirai who was not aware of the scandal, was informed of the matter recently but was yet to take action.
“The money was requested from the donors for the purposes of paying us the packages and outstanding salaries but some two bigwigs in the party helped themselves with the money.
“President Tsvangirai believed that we had already been paid and he only became aware of the scandal recently,” he said.
However, party spokesperson Mr Douglas Mwonzora, yesterday disowned the workers.
“What I know is that Government wrote to staff in the office of the former Prime Minister terminating their contracts. So only those who were retrenched by the Government are the ones who have not been paid after they were laid off by the Government. There is no employee of the MDC-T who has not been paid,” said Mr Mwonzora.
Asked about those working for the parallel structure, Mr Mwonzora said the PM’s office did not have parallel structures.
However, the workers said they intended to institute labour proceedings against Mr Tsvangirai if they did not get their money on time.
“We now want our money and if they do not pay us, we will be left with no option but to institute labour proceedings against the party,” another source said.
Ironically, MDC-T has been outspoken about labour cases affecting companies like ZBC, claiming to be a labour party.
Recently the party issued a statement castigating ZBC that was facing challenges in paying its workers.
Last month MDC-T was ordered by the Labour Court to pay US$453 000 damages to some 13 security officers it fired unfairly without even a cent under unclear circumstances in 2010.
Arbitrator Mr Duncan Mudzengi, ruled that the dismissal of the workers was unfair and that they should be paid damages and other outstanding allowances.
Two of the workers were awarded US$48 260 each, while nine others got US$38 440 each. Another one was awarded US$10 840.
Early this year, Mr Tsvangirai clashed with a former researcher in his office Mr Douglas Munakira over unfair labour practices.
Mr Munakira, who was a research officer with IDAZIM, cited the Prime Minister’s Office and MR Tsvangirai as parties to the labour dispute.
He argued that the PM’s Office unfairly treated him to an extent that he resigned citing unfair labour practice. He also argued that the office owed him US$9 300, a figure that accrued from underpayment of monthly salary over three years of employment.
He resigned citing ill-treatment, but the parties clashed on the amount due to him. Mr Munakira wanted US$9 300 while IDAZIM offered him US$2 000. He ended up taking the US$2 000 considering the financial challenges he was facing while out of employment.