Takunda Maodza, Harare Bureau
THE Zimbabwe Manpower Development Fund (Zimdef) has started the process of retrenching more than 60 employees citing resource limitations.
The retrenchments are coming at a time when there are allegations of abuse of Zimdef funds by Higher and Tertiary, Science and Technology Development Minister Professor Jonathan Moyo and his deputy Dr Godfrey Gandawa.
Zimdef collects $3.6 million monthly and its wage bill is below $200 000.
Documents in our Harare Bureau’s possession show that management led by chief executive officer Mr Fredrick Mandizvidza has since communicated its intentions to the workers.
Zimdef employs about 200 employees and of the figure, it is estimated that between 20 and 30 are students on attachment, meaning that permanent employees are around 170.
The employees are frustrated that Zimdef intends to retrench citing revenue challenges when there are media reports of gross abuse of funds by the Fund’s trustee.
“They’ve already prepared a list of employees to be retrenched. They argue (that) it’s a staff rationalisation programme aimed at containing costs.
The CEO has been moving from branch to branch justifying the plans to retrench. He has been to Bulawayo, Gweru and Mutare among other places,” said a source within the fund.
“What’s surprising is that as a fund, we collect $3.6 million every month, and this is our target. At certain occasions we do miss the target by normally $50 000 or less. Only the CEO and the senior human capital development manager Mr Ignatius Noah Kajengo are handling the retrenchment issue.”
Zimdef’s other costs are related to consumables for colleges and apprenticeships.
Minutes of a Works Council meeting of Zimdef dated January 29, 2016 confirm the fund’s intentions to retrench: “The senior human capital development manager explained the rationale of undertaking the job rationalisation, which he said was because of dwindling resources. The council recommended that the sooner the exercise is carried out the better because it was causing panic and is becoming a drawback in production.
The council recommended that the section and regional managers with the assistance of the HR manager were to carry out skills audit by February 15, 2016,” read the minutes.
Plans for retrenchment appeared again in the Works Council meeting of April 29, 2016 held at 9am at the Zimdef Bulawayo Regional Office: “It’s still work in progress awaiting feedback after recommendations were presented to management. The works council will be informed, and the information will be availed for consensus by the council before implementation,” reads the minutes.
Interestingly, in its meeting with the workers on August 21, 2015, management had assured workers that no one was going to be retrenched.
The minutes read: “The council was advised that top management had promised not to take advantage of the Supreme Court ruling unless directed by higher authority. Termination will only be through the Code of Conduct and all were encouraged to be cognisant of paragraph 13 of the Code of Conduct. Performance was reported to have been good for the last three months and all members were encouraged to keep on the hard work and desist from fraudulent activities.” Zimdef’s human resources boss, Mr Kajengwa would neither confirm nor deny intentions by the Fund to retrench.
“I’m not allowed to speak to reporters. I refer you to the CEO,” he said.
Mr Mandizvidza was not immediately available for comment.
Workers say the retrenchment could start any time soon and are appealing for Government intervention.
Prof Moyo and his deputy stand accused of abusing over $430 000 of Zimdef funds.
The minister used part of the money to buy bicycles for his Tsholotsho North constituency.
Prof Moyo has since admitted to the charge saying: “You can say what you want but I would rather be a Robin Hood than a cruel tribalist, murderer and UN identified cross border diamond thief. The state of underdevelopment in Tsholotsho is such that bicycles are a neccessity just like matches!”