HARARE – The High Court has dismissed a bid by 174 ex-employees of Russian mining firm DTZ-OZGEO seeking to attach the company’s property to recover a collective amount of $390 000 owed in salary arrears.
The dispute erupted after the firm’s mining operations in Chiadzwa were halted by government last year, as the government seized control of operations through State firm, Zimbabwe Consolidated Diamond Company.
High Court judge David Mangota dismissed the case.
In the application, Kumbirai Mambara and 173 others cited DTZ-OZGEO, FBC Bank Limited and Mines minister Walter Chidakwa as respondents.
In a bid to recover their salaries, the workers had sought to attach the company’s machines in Chimanimani and 12 000 carats of diamonds being held in the company account.
According to Steven Zuze, one of the ex-employees, they initially won an arbitral award at the Labour Court but had not yet received the money, which they sought to recover by attaching the company property through a High Court order.
“First respondent (DTZ-OZGEO) did not honour the promise and as we speak, the whole amount awarded is outstanding. If we wait for registration at this moment, we may lose on the proceeds of the 12 000 carats currently attached by other employees under HC 4193/16, if the money is released before we attach,” Zuze said.
The former employees also sought to stop the sale of machines by the firm to the Mines ministry until the finalisation of the case.
“The third respondent (Chidakwa)’s taking over of the mine does not mean that he will employ all of us. In fact, they are going to do a recruitment exercise. As such, there is currently no guarantee that the third respondent is going to employ all of us or assume the first respondent’s debts,” Zuze said.
However, the firm, which was represented by Taona Sibanda, argued the ex-employees had no right to be heard by the court.
“Applicants (employees) have prematurely invoked the jurisdiction of this court as they clearly have ample other remedies which they have abandoned in abuse of this court’s process. For these reasons, this application should be dismissed with costs on a higher scale,” the company director Victor Kuslya said in an affidavit, adding that the issue must be resolved by the Labour Court.