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Zimbabwe Power Utility Guilty of Violating Salary Agreement

A Harare Magistrate Court on Tuesday found the Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (ZESA) guilty of violating a salary agreement it entered with its workers some time last year.

Employees now say they will do everything possible to recover more than $60 million the power utility owes them in backpay.

The criminal case against ZESA ended with magistrate Anita Tshuma fining the utility $400 for failing to pay the wages the power utility agreed to pay its workers.

Zimbabwe Energy Workers Union organizing secretary Joseph Charlie welcomed the court ruling, saying the guilty verdict helps pave the way for workers to collect backpay through civil court.

Charlie said the union, which represents ZESA workers, is prepared to take whatever steps necessary to ensure workers get the money ZESA owes them. According to Charlie, the salary arrears total around $60 million.

ZEWU deputy secretary general, Mbonisi Sibanda, said ZESA agreed in March last year to a contract that would see the lowest-paid worker get $275 a month.

After the agreement, the new terms were then registered as required by statutory instrument 50 of 2012, the law that compels firms to gazette employment terms.

But, the court found, ZESA never complied with the new agreement, which prompted workers to take ZESA to court.

ZESA continues to pay workers at levels set before last year’s union agreement, so the lowest paid worker is getting $190 per month.

Sibanda said he does not understand why ZESA has not complied with the new pay terms, as the company is surpassing its monthly revenue targets.

According to Sibanda, ZESA has used the revenue to pay off most of its foreign debts to countries, like Mozambique, that had previously exported power to Zimbabwe.

The power utility has more than 7,000 employees countrywide. Studio 7 called ZESA spokesman Fullard Gwasira for the company’s reaction to Tuesday’s court ruling, but he did not answer his phone.