Taurai Mangudhla Senior Business Reporter
FORMER employees of displaced diamond producer Marange Resources (Marange), are set to receive their salary arrears and outstanding pension contributions in full by September 2020, the Zimbabwe Consolidated Diamond Company (ZCDC) has said.
Payment of salary arrears started in September 2017 while pension contributions are expected to start being paid in the second quarter of 2018.
Government in February 2016 consolidated seven companies that were mining diamonds in Chiadzwa amid concerns over alleged revenue and mineral leakages as operations lacked transparency and accountability.
By April 2016, the deposed companies, including Marange, owed employees’ salaries and benefits for periods varying between six and 14 months.
Some of the axed Marange employees were briefly employed by ZCDC before they were laid off for various reasons and in different circumstances. The group has been approaching ZCDC and the Ministry of Mines and Mining Development seeking their dues. Others have even taken their matters to court.
ZCDC said a resource was seconded from Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation (ZMDC), the 100 percent shareholder of Marange, to handle these legacy issues as it would be unfair to allow the disadvantaged former employees, to continue suffering.
“Marange took ownership of the obligation and the former employees of Marange’s outstanding salaries were computed and a decision was made for Marange to do the right thing and pay the salary arrears of its former employees.
“Marange has taken steps to address the issue and started paying the salary arrears with effect from September 2017.
“The payments are being processed monthly through a payroll service provider engaged by Marange for this purpose,” said ZCDC.
“The salary arrears are expected to be cleared over a period of 36 months or earlier depending on the amount owed to each employee. Marange is following a similar process to pay outstanding pension arrears.
“It is understood that payment of the pension arrears will commence in the second quarter of 2018,” added ZCDC.
ZCDC argues it is a separate legal entity from Marange Resources whose rights and obligations remain separate.
The former Marange and ZCDC employees, who confirmed they had been getting payments of about $250 each month for a while now, are pressuring the Ministry of Mines and Mining Development to intervene and ensure they are paid their dues as a lump sum.
The group is lobbying through letters and in meetings with authorities.
Documents in our possession however show that Mines and Mining Development permanent secretary Munesu Munodawafa has distanced his office from the matter, referring all disputes to ZCDC on grounds it is a private company with a fully-fledged board and management.
The former Marange workers also allege management fraudulently deducted pension subscriptions. The deductions were religiously done to pay the Mining Industry Pension Fund (MIPF), but it emerged some of the funds were not remitted to MIPF in a case dating prior to the consolidation of 2015.