Transport minister Obert Mpofu has been summoned to appear before Parliament over the ongoing industrial action and failure by the National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ) to pay its workers their salaries for several months.
BY XOLISANI NCUBE
Chairperson of the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Transport Dextor Nduna said they had resolved to summon Mpofu next week to explain what the government was doing to resolve the plight of the workers.
“After our meeting on Monday, we resolved to invite the minister to explain to us what he is doing to resolve the crisis at NRZ. We also want him to tell us what his plans are for the workers who have gone for nine months without salaries,” he said.
In February, workers at NRZ downed tools to protest failure by management to pay them salaries for nine months.
They said the parastatal had been paying them amounts ranging between $40 and $80 per month, a mere 20% of their salaries.
The troubled parastatal was currently transporting six million tonnes of goods per annum, out of 80 million tonnes the system was designed for, due to a depressed market and reduced capacity.
In 2013, it moved 3,6 million tonnes of goods against a target of 6 million tonnes. Comparatively, in 1998, the NRZ moved 18 million tonnes.
Besides the low utilisation, the company was also saddled with a $144 million debt raked up since dollarisation in 2009 and registered a $17 million deficit in the first five months of 2014, generating $44 million revenue against $61 million expenditure.
Nduna said his committee was also keen to quiz the minister on the dualisation of the Beitbridge-Masvingo highway, which if completed, would reduce increasing road carnage along one of Africa’s busiest roads.
“We have also looked at the curriculum vitae for management and the board for the national airline, but we are now keen on understanding the company’s strategic vision and what government is planning to do to improve the efficiency of the company,” Nduna said.
Air Zimbabwe is seeking a partner to help it return to its former glory and pay off huge debts owed to international entities.