Row over Rufaro Marketing/TN deal

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Rufaro Marketing (RM) workers are up in arms with the board calling for its immediate resignation saying it had failed to run the company.

The board is chaired by business executive Phillip Mataranyika.

The latest spat comes at a time the board had successfully lured TN Holdings to lease 25 of its properties in the high-density areas.

Under the new arrangement TN Holdings expects to employ up to 250 people in the RM outlets down from the present estimated 470 employees as the company restructures its business model.

RM Workers’ Union chairman George Gwaze said the board had given workers a raw deal.

“We are saying the board has failed us. The outlets are not making any profit. We are not satisfied with the new TN Holdings set-up,” said Gwaze.

“We can actually run these outlets by ourselves. Why don’t they hand them over to us? I’ve always said that I can be a better chairman than the current one.”

Gwaze, said workers were yet to access their November and December salaries.

He however, said the workers had received their outstanding salaries for September and October. He pointed out the current board had outlived its term of office.

The Mataranyika—led board decision to lease 25 of the beer utility’s 90 outlets to TN Holdings irked a number of employees as they learnt the company would no longer be selling beer on a full-time basis, but rather leverage on the real estate sector.

The 25 beer halls leased to TN would be converted into shopping and banking malls selling TN and Econet products and services.

The RM board said it was leasing the outlets as some were either closed or were not generating enough money to sustain the $281 000 per month wage bill.

RM owes its creditors $5,6 million while under the new arrangement TN Holdings would pay $1,5 million in rentals per annum for the 10-year lease agreement.

Harare mayor Muchadeyi Masunda said the city council, as major shareholder had total confidence in the Mataranyika-led board and would support its strategic vision.

“We believe that this board will help to turn around the fortunes of Rufaro Marketing for the benefit of everyone,” said Masunda.

“The business model has changed. The grossly underutilised assets (retail outlets) must be fully utilised, we need to sweat those assets.”

Masunda said the current board is substantive and can only be removed at the behest of the shareholder.

He said workers should adopt a better approach rather than be ambivalent and confrontational.

“Rather than confront their employer, they need to sit down with management and see how best they can fit into the new circumstances,” he said.