Zim’s State-Run GMB Hits Hard Times, Lays Off Workers

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

 recent months.

 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.