Sydney Kawadza Senior Reporter
Close to 40 former Zimasco (Pvt) Ltd employees in Mutorashanga face eviction from company premises after their ex-employer reneged on a pledge to sell the houses to them.
The ex-employees recently accused management at Zimasco North Dyke, which covers Mutorashanga and surrounding areas, of failing to engage them over the issue.
Representatives of the former workers said the development could affect hundreds of people occupying the houses.
“We noticed that the company was struggling to pay our packages hence we stayed while waiting for our dues,” said one of the former workers who cannot be named for fear of being victimised.
The former workers said thy had welcomed the option to buy the houses. “While no formal communication was availed, we were made to understand that we would pay around $4 700 for the houses but this has since been reversed.
“The sudden turn of events is going to affect many people especially those who are still waiting for their retrenchment packages,” the ex-employees said.
Documents on proposed turnaround strategies indicate that Zimasco was looking at disposing absolute inventory and residential properties.
In its objectives on restructuring and reorganisation through utilising idle assets and disposing of non-core assets, Zimasco would be leasing its hospitals, clubs and guest houses.
The proposal also indicated the disposal of residential properties in Harare, Kwekwe and Shurugwi including low-cost housing in Shurugwi and Mutorashanga.
In dismissing some of the allegations, Zimasco general manager (marketing and administration) Ms Clara Sadomba said the company continuously engaged the retrenched workers.
She said Zimasco has constantly been in liaison with the retrenched employees while engaging them through their judicial manager.
Zimasco was placed under judicial management in June last year. “Further to these engagements, it was suggested by the employees that the company consider selling the company mine houses to them with the payment being offset against their retrenchment packages, where applicable.
“The company sought to secure title deeds, as a step towards the disposal of the identified houses,” she said. Ms Sadomba said engagements with local authorities revealed that the process of securing title deeds was cumbersome with potential heavy costs for both the company and the retrenched employees.
“The company could no longer pursue this route and communication to this effect was given to the retrenchees. “The company thus continued to pursue its efforts to raise funds to pay the retrenchment packages. This was finally possible from December 2016 and is ongoing,” she said.
Fifty-nine people were retrenched in Mutorashanga and Ms Sadomba said 21 of these had been fully paid while 38 had their severance packages outstanding.
She said those who had received their full packages were given written notices up to end of July 2017 to vacate company accommodation. “The retrenchees could also apply to stay in company accommodation after this date as private tenants,” Ms Sadomba said.
She said the 38 retrenchees who are still owed a balance of at most 25 percent of their retrenchment package had not been given these notices.
Zimasco had planned to sell 390 houses, of which only 19 were from Mutorashanga – 14 in Tafara 1, five at New Village and the rest in Shurugwi.
She said the retrenchees paid between $6 and $7 per month towards rent.
Zimasco has, since October 2016, been running its two furnaces at Kwekwe with the mining division producing the required chrome ore for both the smelter and chrome ore export requirements.