By Nomalanga Moyo
SW Radio Africa
10 May 2014
Three Chitungwiza council employees have been suspended after they appeared before a parliamentary committee where they raised concerns over their employer’s failure to pay them for 13 months.
The three are Ephraim Katsina, Temson Bamusi and Ngonidzashe Marau and are all members of the workers union.
The union leaders appeared before legislators in March when they also presented evidence of corruption involving a secret account from which 18 council managers were withdrawing $235,000 a month.
The workers told the committee on labour and social welfare that massive corruption and the lack of public accountability at the municipality was a major cause for the council’s failure to pay workers their salaries.
On Monday, Chitungwiza council suspended the three workers without benefits, accusing them of releasing negative information about the council and violating its code of conduct.
The employees were ordered to surrender all company properties in their possession and to not enter municipal premises or “interfere with witnesses, or day to day activities at these premises.”
Chitungwiza Residents Trust director Marvelous Kumalo, whose group met with the affected workers Wednesday, said they viewed these suspensions as a form of victimisation.
“As residents we are not going to allow the council to victimise workers for demanding what is rightfully theirs.
These workers have been serving us for more than a year without getting paid and we won’t stand by while the council targets them for standing up for their rights,” said Khumalo.
The residents’ leader said they will wait for parliament to issue the suspended workers with certificates of privileges as was promised by Clerk of Parliament Austin Zvoma.
“The workers will then take these certificates to the council as an instruction to re-instate them. Failure to that, residents and other council workers will take action,” Khumalo added.
According to the country’s constitution, individuals are not liable to civil or criminal proceedings, arrest or imprisonment or damages for anything said in, produced before, or submitted to Parliament or in any of its committees.
Khumalo said in 2012 the municipality had dismissed 17 municipal workers union leaders on similar, trumped-up charges.
“We are tempted to conclude that this is an attempt to weaken or terminate the spirit of labour activism at the municipality and to silence the workers.
“These three are being victimised for representing their fellow workers who elected them into these posts,” he said.