HomeLocal NewsCAAZ loses $3m in allowances over DRC war

CAAZ loses $3m in allowances over DRC war

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Property worth over $3 million belonging to the Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe (CAAZ) is set to go under the hammer after a writ of execution was issued yesterday by the High Court in favour of the firm’s 122 firefighters whose allowances for their participation in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) civil war remained unpaid.

BY CHARLES LAITON

In February last year, the employees, through their labour lawyer Caleb Mucheche, successfully obtained an arbitral award in their favour after CAAZ had reportedly refused to pay them the allowances for a job they had carried out almost a decade back.

According to the court papers, sometime in 1999, the 122 employees were deployed to the DRC in groups of nine each for periods ranging from one month to six months.

The assignments, the employees claimed, coincided with the civil war between rebel groups and government troops during which time, as firefighters, they were based at an airport in Kinshasa providing firefighting services.

However, the employees said during their stay in the DRC, they endured difficult working conditions which resulted in some of them suffering from various diseases associated with lack of hygiene.

“They (employees) submitted that they were denied their essential rights such as decent accommodation, food and medicine. These essential rights, the claimants submitted, were part of their contractual entitlement during their assignment,” Mucheche said.

“As a result of the host country not fulfilling their contractual obligations, as part of the secondment, the claimants submitted that they raised the complaint with senior management who in turn responded but with very little minimum support.
“This, they allege, resulted in the secondees being attacked by various diseases associated with lack of clean water, food and poor hygiene conditions under which they operated.”

The employees said at the beginning of the assignment, CAAZ paid them a daily allowance of $100 for a station fire officer and $75 per day for firefighters, but later reduced the payments to $75 and $50 per day respectively.

Upon their return home, the employees said CAAZ reneged on its obligation to pay them their outstanding allowances prompting the employees to approach the courts for recourse.

At one point, after the employees had won the labour dispute, CAAZ filed an appeal against the judgment of the Labour Court, but later developed cold feet and withdrew the court case.

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