By Andrew Muvishi
The Zimbabwe Electricity Transmission and Distribution Company (ZETDC) has suspended eight union members for taking part in an illegal demonstration last month.
ZETDC is a subsidiary of Zesa Holdings. The suspended officials are from the Energy Sector Workers Union of Zimbabwe (ESWUZ).
They were suspended without salaries and benefits. The High Court had barred the workers from staging the demonstration.
Zesa spokesperson Mr Fullard Gwasira confirmed the suspension saying the power utility had acted within its right.
“There are eight members of staff who have been suspended for engaging in various illegal demonstrations between December 21, 2017 and February 28, 2018 and the company is within its right to discipline staff for infringement of internal labour statutes,” he said.
The Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions, whose first vice president Florence Taruvinga was also suspended, described the move by ZETDC as “disgusting.”
“They have been suspended pending a disciplinary hearing for demonstrations that took place at the Zesa Head Office on December 21 last year,” ZCTU secretary-general Mr Japhet Moyo told journalists on Tuesday.
“These demonstrations were cleared by the police. Before the action, there were efforts by Zesa to apply for a show cause order, but this was scrapped off the roll by Judge (Rogers) Manyangadze at the Labour Court.
“As you are aware, the demonstrations were basically on the corruption that is prevalent at Zesa such as the awarding of tenders to dubious characters like Wicknell Chivayo, Highfield West National Assembly member Psychology Maziwisa and former ZBC news anchor Oscar Pambuka.
“The workers wanted the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission to take action.”
Mr Moyo said the suspension was a ploy by ZETDC management to cover up for their “shenanigans” as the workers were the first to raise the red flag.
“The action by ZETDC is nothing, but pure victimisation of trade unionists which is unacceptable under the Labour Act,” he said.
“ZCTU views this as a clear intimidation tactic by the employer to silence the voice of the workers.
“By targeting the leadership of the union, management wants to instil fear in the hearts of all workers at Zesa.”
He added: “ZETDC is playing with fire and they should be aware that where the existence of a trade union is under threat, the whole workforce has the right to embark on a strike.”
Mr Moyo said they would take up the matter to President Mnangagwa, the International Trade Union Confederation and International Labour Organisation.
Seven other suspended officials are Admire Mudzonga, Gibson Mushunje, Ackim Mzilikazi, Stephen Mwoyoweshumba, Tariro Shumba, Given Dingwiza and Johannes Chingoriwo.