THE National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ) will only clear its salary backlog in two years if the parastatal manages to access a $460 million recapitalisation loan currently being negotiated with a South African financial institution.
NRZ has gone for months without paying its workers. Transport minister Obert Mpofu told Parliament on Wednesday that the government was concerned about the non-payment of salaries.
He said the government was currently engaged in negotiations with a South African financial institution for a $460 million loan facility required for NRZ recapitalisation.
“The ministry is concerned with the salary situation at NRZ where workers are not getting their full salaries,” he said.
“We are playing a facilitator’s role in negotiating for a loan to recapitalise the parastatal.
“This should be used to rehabilitate the infrastructure as well as the rolling stock, which will in turn improve the efficiency of NRZ on the transportation of both passengers and cargo.
“We do hope the backlog in salaries will then be cleared in one to two years’ time after this recapitalisation,” he said.
Mpofu said they hoped to wrap up the negotiations this quarter and was confident that they would secure the required funding.
The minister was responding to Mpopoma-Pelandaba legislator Bekithemba Nyathi who sought to know what measures NRZ was taking to ensure that workers were paid their full salaries.
NRZ workers are currently being paid less than half of their salaries and the company has accumulated huge arrears.
Mpofu said negotiations between NRZ management and labour had been going on to try and find common ground and understanding of the current prevailing economic environment the country was facing as it was impacting negatively on the revenue base of the company.
“The salary situation has slightly improved though with the lowest paid workers getting 70% and 50% for the highest paid. The ministry is constantly monitoring the situation at NRZ by giving advice on how NRZ can reduce expenditure on salary-revenue ratio,” Mpofu said.
Appearing before the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Transport earlier this month, NRZ acting general manager Lewis Mukwada said the rail company was operating at a loss and sitting on a more than $100 million debt, inclusive of wages.
He said they owed workers $36,1 million in salary arrears adding that the firm was making monthly losses of $17 million.