Home » Judicial » Court Summons Minister Mpofu Over Unpaid Wages

TRANSPORT minister Obert Mpofu should on Wednesday appear before a Labour Court in the case in which more than 20 journalists want their outstanding salaries paid.

Mpofu was the owner of the The Zimbabwe Mail daily newspaper that closed shop in March this year after only a year in circulation.

The publication’s workers had gone for five months without pay with the arrears amounting to over $200,000.

Most of the paper’s former journalists are now struggling to make ends meet in a harsh economic environment whose media industry has shrunk to a caricature of its former self.

In summons issued by the Labour Court, a copy of which was seen by NewZimbabwe.com, 42 former employees are suing the paper for alleged non-payment of outstanding salaries and unlawful dismissal.

“You are hereby notified that the matter between you (The Zimbabwe Mail) and 40 others concerning alleged non-payment of outstanding salaries in lieu of leave and alleged unlawful dismissal.

“If you fail to attend the hearing before T Sakarombe at Makombe Building on 17 June 2015, the hearing may proceed without you to the possible detriment of your interest,” reads part of the court documents.

Information gleaned from the affected employees this week indicated that Mpofu, through his company’s board chairperson Munyaradzi Nzarayapenga and in a bid to pre-empt the court action, had also put in motion a process to apply for compulsory liquidation.

“We have received information that Mpofu has instructed Nzarayapenga to apply for compulsory liquidation,said a former staffer who declined to be identified.

“What is shocking is that Mpofu had indicated that the company only owns no more than 20 desk-top computers and that is what he intends to liquidate.

“Mpofu registered the printing press under another company clearly aware that his project was probably ad-hoc and aimed at oiling his then push to be elected Zanu PF national chairman and subsequently a ticket into the ruling party’s presidium ahead of last year’s congress.”

The Zimbabwe Mail hit the streets in December 2013 as a daily publication before turning into a weekly in February 2014 and eventually closing down.

Battered by viability problems, the company slashed salaries in half in September last year but by the time of its closure, staffers said even the reduced wages were not being paid.

The workers are being represented by Rodgers Matsikidze of Mucheche Law Chambers.

A commercial bank also owned by Mpofu collapsed this year.

The minister claims to be one of the richest members of President Robert Mugabe’s cabinet although questions remain over the source of his wealth.

Mpofu was among a litany of candidates who were eyeing the position of Zanu PF national chair before Mugabe abolished the post at the December congress.

The minister claimed he was the most senior Zanu PF politician in the Matabeleland region following the death of John Nkomo but his liberation war credentials have always been questioned by his peers.

Source : New Zimbabwe