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AfrAsia to retrench more workers

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AFRASIA Zimbabwe Holdings Limited (AZHL) plans to retrench more staff as part of the group’s rationalisation programme.

TARISAI MANDIZHA
BUSINESS REPORTER

Last year, AZHL retrenched 83 employees.

Company spokesperson Sekai Chitemerere told NewsDay the staff rationalisation was aimed at stabilising the business, focusing on cost containment, optimising resources and identifying growth opportunities in the financial services sector.

“The streamlining of operations is ongoing. The Group is continuously monitoring progress, ensuring efficiency throughout the processes and remains ready to respond to any emerging challenges and opportunities in the economy,” she said.

The group committed to pay employees retrenched last year over a period of six months. AZHL is lagging behind in paying the retrenchees.

“We have assured the ex-employees that the Group remains fully committed to meeting the obligation to pay retrenchment packages,” Chitemerere said, adding that communication with the concerned staff members was ongoing although the details of such payments remained a confidential matter.

The group’s flagship unit, AfrAsia Bank Zimbabwe, is struggling to stay afloat although there are plans to recapitalise the subsidiary.

Retrenchments have become a common occurrence in the sector that has been hit by the liquidity squeeze and a high loan default rate. Statistics from the Zimbabwe Bank and Allied Workers’ Union show over 1 000 employees lost their jobs in 2014.

It projects at least 1 000 jobs will be lost this year.

Non-performing loans (NPLs) in the banking sector have been rising reaching 20,45% as at September 30 2014 from 1,6% in 2009 raising fears that banks would cut on-lending critically needed to reboot sectors of the economy.

An NPL is when payments of interest and principal are past due by 90 days or more, or at least 90 days of interest payments have been capitalised, refinanced or delayed by agreement.

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