By Daniel Chigundu
PUBLIC Service, Labour and Social Services Minister Prisca Mupfumira say she is empowered by government policy to remove ZCTU president Peter Mutasa from the National Social Security Authority (NSSA) board, contrary to what the labour board is saying.
According to ZCTU, the minister’s decision is unconstitutional and violates the principles of freedom of association and has even threatened to petition High Court and to file a complaint to the International Labour Organisation against the government of Zimbabwe.
However, speaking in Parliament recently, Mupfumira said there are requirements that board members are supposed to follow and if they decide otherwise, it is government policy to removethem.
“It is government policy that boards are appointed and removed by a minister. It is also the NSSA Act that the board is tripartite; workers, employers and government. It is also normal board requirements that confidentiality is kept within a board.
“In terms of the Act, if a member carries acts of misconduct, the minister can remove the member. It is not our policy to discriminate against any trade union. If we remove any member, we will request that particular organisation to give us new names, which is the normal procedure and that is what we will do.
Asked by Kuwadzana East legislator Nelson Chamisa whether if the decision was not violating the rights of a trade union leader who is legitimately exercising his responsibilities in terms of the law, Minister Mupfumira said a board appointment is not an employment and that there are certain requirements, rules and regulations which are expected of any board member
The minister added that if a board member carries acts of misconduct, if he does not work well within the board, the minister is at liberty to remove the board member.
“It is not employment. ILO – we are talking about employment. Boards are at the pleasure of whoever the appointing authorities is, so I am not talking about people who are working; there are certain laws that need to be followed.
“In this House, you send people that are misbehaving out of the House. If the people do not behave in formal etiquette, we can dismiss them. I like all my trade unions and we like people that conform to corporate governance norms and ethics. This is not a job where you can be employed to be a board member,” she said.
According to ZCTU-secretary general Japhet Moyo, the minister had no right to remove Mutasa from the NSSA board as he did not represent the interests of government, but of the workers who contribute towards the scheme.
“Let us assume there are allegations against comrade Mutasa, the law and natural justice provides that he must be given an opportunity to defend himself, but the minister did all this without consulting the workers who are the owners of the fund,” he said.
Quizzed by Bulawayo Central legislator Dorcas Sibanda to inform Parliament if Mutasa had done some acts of misconduct, Minister Mupfumira declined to answer the question.
There are however unconfirmed reports that the ZCTU boss is hugely against NSSA’s investments, especially the decision to acquire Telecel Zimbabwe at a time when the authority was paying measly payments to pensioners.
ZCTU added that government must appreciate that NSSA is there because of workers and pensioners who contribute or contributed something and therefore all their dealings must be open to the stakeholders, adding that as workers, they are happy with the work Mutasa has been doing.