TM Hyper Pick n Pay’s main branch in Bulawayo was yesterday forced to close early following disturbances by a group of former employees who stormed the building demanding to be reinstated after their “unfair dismissal”.
BY TALENT GUMPO
The protesters, who claimed that they were dismissed on tribal grounds, declared that the shop would remain closed until management has renewed their contracts.
The placard-wielding protesters broke into song and dance at the shop entrance while barring customers from entering the premises.
Their representative, Wisdom Mkhwananzi said they would continue with the protests until their grievances have been addressed.
“Over 15 workers approached us complaining over the unfair dismissal from their jobs after serving the company for years saying they were promised renewal of contracts which never materialised. We are here to mediate and make sure that they get their jobs back because we stand for the rights of the people, this is not political, it is a matter of abuse of our people’s rights,” he said, adding they suspected the dismissals were along tribal lines.
Mkhwananzi accused the branch manager, Livingstone Ntini of using his Zanu PF links to victimise employees.
“The manager Ntini is an aspiring Member of Parliament in Kwekwe under Zanu PF, so he is abusing his office. Instead of making sure he provides jobs for the people, he is doing the opposite, we want him gone,” he said.
“We are not fighting anyone but the system that they are using because we voted for the Constitution in 2013 which has sections that talk about devolution of power, so why is it working in other regions and not in Matabeleland?”
He said they were not moved by the presence of the police at the scene arguing that their demonstration was peaceful and constitutional.
“Ntini got rid of over 15 employees and replaced them with workers coming from Harare and other areas. Therefore, this shop will not open until this matter is resolved. We want them gone because they are here to destroy our lives for their own benefit,” said one of the affected workers who spoke on condition of anonymity.
Another workers’ representative, Xolani Ncube said they would stand guard at the shop until management had resolved the matter.
“If it means we must sleep here, we are prepared because we want the people of Bulawayo to be treated with justice, regardless of political affiliation or tribe. As long as one is a resident of the city they must be employed, this is devolution of power in demonstration,” he said.
Efforts to get a comment from Ntini were fruitless as his mobile phone went unanswered.