By A Correspondent- Home Affairs minister Kazembe Kazembe allegedly instructed Zanu-PF youths to block an investigation into allegations of child labour at white-owned farms in Mazowe district, Mashonaland Central province, it has emerged.
Kazembe is the Zanu-PF provincial chairman for Mashonaland West.
Documents indicate that Zanu-PF provincial youth chairman John Nhamburo and Kazembe’s personal assistant Shadreck Muwandi tried to block the investigators at Kazembe’s behest.
The pair recently caused drama at Blackforby and Tavydale farms owned by Nick and Peep Mattison, where they allegedly threatened to harm a delegation that had visited the farms on a fact-finding mission to establish reports on child labour.
The delegation included provincial labour officer, Andrew Nyekete, National Employment Council (NEC) and unionists from Progressive Agriculture and Allied Industries Workers Union of Zimbabwe (PAAWUZ).
The union, in a letter seen by NewZimbabwe.com addressed to Kazembe, said the two Zanu-PF officials’ conduct was tarnishing his name, and violating workers’ rights to representation by labour unions of their choice.
“It has become imperative that we write to you with concern over the riotous activities of two ruling party-political members, namely John Nhamburo who was recently elected provincial youth chair for Mashonaland Central province, and Shadreck Muwandi who claims to be Personal Assistant (PA) to Hon Minister Kazembe Kazembe (MP),” the letter, signed by PAAWUZ secretary-general, Phillip Mafundu and dated March 8, 2022, reads.
“The two have been disturbing and/or interfering in purely labour matters, trade union, National Employment Council for the Agriculture Sector, Ministry of Labour and workers committee as enshrined in the supreme law, the Constitution of Zimbabwe, which advocate for freedom of association as the workers have taken upon themselves to join a trade union of their choice and furthermore their fundamental labour employment rights as enshrined in the Labour Act Chapter 28:01,” the letter reads.
Documents further show that Nhamburo and Muwandi, accompanied by marauding youths wearing Zanu-PF regalia, stormed a meeting held on February 9, 2022 at Blackforby farm involving workers committee, management, NEC Agriculture and Labour ministry officials trying to find common ground between employer and employees.
They were chanting political slogans denouncing and castigating the legitimacy of the union and other visitors.
“They disrupted the meeting in a riotous behaviour, victimised, harassed and threatened everyone, except the farm management. They name-dropped senior government officials and senior politicians’ names (for example your name Kazembe Kazembe). John Nhamburo bragged that he was a boss to everyone since he is a Zanu-PF Central Committee member, he was above everyone and the process that was happening should stop immediately and the white farmer to continue with what he was doing,” the letter to Kazembe reads.
“Shadreck Muwandi said he was the one who travels everywhere with you and had a right to stop the negotiations between the employer and employees since all the employer was doing was above board and had your blessings. Our union officials were threatened with death, and they even tried to stop them from talking to the farm workers who are our members of which the workers stood their ground that they wanted our representation,” it further reads.
Again on March 4, 2022, the two Zanu-PF members went to Tavydale farm where they unleashed violence and disrupted a scheduled meeting between management and workers’ committee.
They allegedly harassed, intimidated and threatened the workers committee.
The union accuses the Mattison family of imperialism and hiring Zanu-PF activists in order to intimidate unionists from unearthing gross labour violations, including child labour and slave wages, at the farms.
It was not immediately clear if the letter was responded to as Kazembe was not answering calls on his mobile phone.
Efforts to get comment from the Mattisons proved fruitless by the time of publishing.