By Professor Matodzi
Harare, May 20, 2014 – Zimbabwe’s state-run grain procurement
body, the Grain Marketing Board (GMB) has hit hard times and has
started offloading several employees as the southern African country
chokes from a resurgent economic crisis.
The (GMB), a traditionally inept and perennially loss-making
government-owned enterprise charged with the responsibility of
maintaining the country’s strategic grain reserves, has asked its
employees to sign up for unpaid leave so as to allow them to take up
other jobs as the grain marketer has failed to remunerate them in
Sibongile Muchirahondo, the GMB Deputy General Manager-Human Resources
recently authorised and cleared the workers to take up jobs elsewhere
as the organisation is grappling with “financial challenges”.
“Following the employment council meeting which was held on the 16th
of April 2014, please be advised that both parties agreed that
employees who wish to go on unpaid leave, be allowed to do so in view
of the current financial challenges being faced by the organisation,”
reads part of the circular issued by Muchirahondo late last month and
seen by Radio VOP this week.
As part of the process, Muchirahondo said the GMB workers who opt to
pursue their private businesses should first submit their leave
application forms to their immediate superiors for approval.
“Those employees who would have secured employment elsewhere should
submit a copy of the contract from the short-term employer for
approval by the organisation before commencement of such employment,”
reads part of Muchirahondo’s circular.
The Deputy General Manager-Human Resources said while on unpaid leave
the workers will be officially employed by GMB and will remain bound
by “all standing rules and regulations” of the organisation.
“Furthermore, if need arises, employees on unpaid leave will be called
back to perform their duties or any other duties as the organisation
may deem fit. Vacational leave days shall not accrue during the unpaid
leave period,” the circular reads.
The GMB has for several decades been performing badly with a heavy
dependency on allocation of resources from the national, a huge debt,
serious deterioration of infrastructure, poor corporate governance and
limited access to credit lines emerging as the major contributing
The state-run grain procurer has failed to pay farmers for grain
delivered to its depots throughout the country’s ten provinces and is
currently holding insignificant stocks of grain at its provincial
Since 2000, the government has had to import grain to augment local
grain supplies, a situation which critics blame on the seizure by
President Robert Mugabe’s ZANU PF supporters of productive land from
white farmers under an often chaotic and violent land reform programme
which authorities claim was aimed at giving land to landless black
Zimbabweans who had been disadvantaged by the commercial farmers.