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Wage dispute threatens Hwange power station upgrades – NewsDay

BY NQOBANI NDLOVU

A Chinese firm, SinoHydro Corporation, which is undertaking the refurbishment of Hwange Thermal Power Station is reportedly engaged in a wage dispute with its employees who accuse it of unfair labour practices and human rights violations.

This is not the first time that SinoHydro Corporation has faced the same charges since the government awarded it a US$1.4 billion tender to expand Hwange thermal power station’s generating capacity by 50%.

It is expected that upon completion of the project, it will add 600 megawatts (MW) to the national grid.

In August, the company’s workers staged a sit-in demanding to be allowed to go home after being reportedly locked inside company premises for more than eight months. The job action followed several pleas by the over 400 workers to be allowed to go home.

NewsDay heard that the company’s employees were now threatening to down tools in protest over low wages, and failure by the company to improve their working conditions.

One worker who identified himself as Tinashe said: “It is not fair how these guys are treating us. We want to work for our country and finish the project but they must listen to our demands.

“Our colleagues from ZESA last week got a salary increment, their management decided to cushion them as they continue with discussions and this at least raises their morale. We appeal to the government to intervene.”

Sino Hydro could not be reached for comment.

The firm started construction of Hwange 7 and 8 units in 2019, taking over from China Machinery and Engineering Company (CMEC) that had initially been awarded the tender.

China’s Export-Import Bank is providing a loan for the project, 80% of it at concessionary rates and 20% at commercial rates.

The current labour dispute between Sino Hydro and its employees comes at a time when the power expansion project is already behind schedule, having been slowed down by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Reports indicate that Unit 7 which was supposed to be commissioned in October will now be delayed and is set for commissioning in March 2022.

Unit 8 will be commissioned in June 2022 instead of January 2022.

The Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (ZESA) tightened electricity rationing in recent weeks as it battled serious shortages, forcing some parts of the country to go without electricity for several hours.

The power challenges had been caused by technical challenges at the Hwange power plant, while South African power utility, where Zimbabwe often imports from, is also battling to provide enough electricity in the neighbouring country.

The country produces an average of 1,200 megawatts against a peak demand of 2,200 MW and relies on imports to supplement its production.

Follow Nqobani on Twitter @NqobaniNdlovu

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'Pensioners must collectively engage govt on welfare' – NewsDay

BY PRAISEMORE SITHOLE

PENSIONERS have been urged to unite and call for sustainable monthly stipends from government as current payouts have been eroded by inflation.

This was said by the Masvingo Pensioners Forum co-ordinator Charles Gonzi, who told NewsDay that lack of unity was letting pensioners down.

Last year, government adjusted pensions for its former workers to cushion them against the rising cost of living.

National Social Security Authority (Nssa) pensioners get $80 while survivor pensioners get $32. A few pensioners who retired on good salaries get monthly stipends ranging from $500 to $1 500.

“If pensioners are not united in the manner they approach government, they will continue to be on the receiving end,” Gonzi said.

“We also wonder what criterion was used to give pensioners only US$30 COVID-19 allowance considering that the impact of COVID-19 is non-selective,” he said.

Gonzi said pensioners should also demand non-monetary allowances that they were promised by government.

“We were promised that we would be supported for goat rearing projects, as well as to access loans from the National Building Society (NBS).  However, we are yet to see implementation of these promises,” he said.

Recently, nine war veterans were arrested after they allegedly besieged the offices of Finance minister Mthuli Ncube demanding an increase in pensions.

National Social Security Authority (Nssa) deputy director for marketing, Tendayi Mutseyekwa said there were on-going programmes to assist pensioners.

“The issue of loans via NSB was launched in July and is still on-going. We communicated non-monetary benefits for pensioners and our plans are still on-going.  Some of these projects cannot happen overnight, we promised them, but we did not say they are going to be instant.”

Government recently said it was embarking on a biometric life certificate verification exercise of its pensioners to strengthen the pension management system and avoid paying “ghost pensioners”.

Last year, pensioners created a forum that is meant to lobby pension authorities to pay them sustainable payouts given the economic challenges in the country.

  • Follow Praisemore on Twitter @TPraisemore

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LATEST: Violent Harare Teacher Gets Three-Year Suspended Jail Term – New Zimbabwe.com

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By Mary Taruvinga


TALENT Chingwaru, a mathematics teacher at the Harare Einstein Tuition Centre, has been caged for three years for assaulting a student at his school.

However, Chingwaru escaped a custodial sentence after Harare Magistrate Judith Taruvinga suspended 18 months on condition of good behaviour.

Another 18 months were suspended on the condition he performs 630 hours of community service at the Parirenyatwa Group of Hospitals in Harare.

In mitigation, Chingwaru told the court through his lawyer Joshua Chirambwe that he is an engineer and an unqualified Maths teacher.

In her ruling, Taruvinga said Chingwaru had shown remorse, and that he was a first offender, hence the court had to give him a second chance to reform.

However, Taruvinga said the accused should be also punished so that he can control his anger issues.

“You are a first offender, you did not waste the court’s time. You are remorseful. The court also found in aggravation that it’s unfortunate that the complainant did not sustain any visible injuries, but you must face the consequences of your anger,” Taruvinga said.

“Your case had attracted bad publicity. But you have been in custody from Thursday until today and the court will give you another chance. ”

Magistrate Taruvinga said corporal punishment was outlawed and children must be protected against any form of violence.

Chingwaru told the court he had a toothache during the time of the assault, and the tooth was irritating him.

According to the state on October 14, Chingwaru assaulted an 18-year-old student, who later made a report at the Harare Central Police Station.

Court papers show the Lower Sixth student was found in an “O” Level classroom watching movies during lesson time and he was ordered by Chingwaru to go back to his class.

Instead, the student went to a biology classroom where he coincidentally met the same teacher. A harsh exchange of words ensued, resulting in the teacher assaulting the learner.

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