A Harare labour officer Lilford Nhandara recently ruled that Maranatha Ferrochrome Private Limited should pay over US$1,5million to its 221 former employees as compensation for their unpaid housing allowance following a protracted labour dispute backdating to 2009.

Maranatha Ferrochrome, a chrome smelting company housed in Kadoma had refused to pay the housing allowance arguing through their legal representative one Simplicio Mathew Bhebhe of Kantor and Immerman that some of the employees were not permanent employees as such were not entitled to the 30 percent housing allowance and were not part of the claim as there is only one claimant, Abiton Malunga before the tribunal.

Bhebhe’ arguments were squashed by NUMAIZ which represented the employees, who put forward pay slips in support of the claim and also affidavits from the other 220 claimants which reaffirms and reconfirm support for Abiton Malunga as principal actor in the claim.

“My view is that the claimants made an effort to prove that they are at least entitled to housing allowance,” reads Nhandara’ ruling.

“What the respondent ought to have done was to counter claim the argument,” went on Nhandara.

“The respondent simply denies the obligation by stating that the employees are not entitled to 30 percent housing allowance. The respondent should have provided that actual entitlements since the claimant’ had brought their proof. It is also my view that the affidavits are sufficient enough to identify a person in a tribunal or a court. Having said that, I found no issues in using the affidavits as identification of the claimants. Although the claimants had put their claim in United States Dollars, I concur with the respondent that they should be paid the dues in Zimbabwean Dollars in line with the current financial laws. There is need for respondent to convert the United States Dollars to prevailing Zimbabwean Dollar rate,’ concluded Nhandara

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