HARARE – Zimbabwe’s largest brewer, Delta on Thursday refuted allegations by workers that the company had diverted pension funds from the demutualisation of Old Mutual a decade ago to a trust.
Workers’ committee representatives who appeared before a parliamentary portfolio committee on indigenization and empowerment said the company was sitting on $120 million from the trust that belonged to them and that they were kept in the dark about the company’s indigenization plans.
However, in written responses to The Source, the company’s secretary Alex Makamure said Delta had an established occupational pension fund (Delta Beverages Pension Fund) which was invested in Old Mutual prior to its demutualisation and received some shares.
“These shares are part of the pension fund’s assets, which are managed by a fully constituted pension fund board. The demutualisation did not accrue to individual participants in the pension fund,” he said.
Makamure said the management board of the fund comprised both employer and employee representatives with the latter’s representatives being elected once every two years.
He said as part of the company’s empowerment programme, employees were in 2007 each granted 5,000 shares totalling 15 million which they sold last year for about $6,000.
“They also participate in the dividends from a pool of 14 million shares that remain in the trust,” Makamure said.
Earlier, workers told Parliament that they were not represented in the fund and demanded to be paid out the money from Old Mutual.
“The demutualisation packages were supposed to be given to employees in 1999 but unfortunately the company did not honour that agreement with Old Mutual. They took the money to form the trust fund which now has over $120 million but employees are not getting anything from this fund,” said John Shumba, the workers’ committee chairperson.
He said non-managerial employees and those who retired or were fired did not benefit from the fund and appealed to Parliament for assistance.
Shumba said workers were also not aware of how the fund was being administered as the board was composed of managerial staff.
Workers said the company, whose largest shareholder is SABMiller with 40 percent, had not yet complied with the indigenisation law. Instead they said they had been given a once off payment of 5,000 shares per employee in 2008 which matured last year and were paid $5,800 each as part of an employee retention scheme.
“These shares were diverted and called indigenization shares,” said Shumba, adding that not all workers benefited from this scheme.
They were also given $100 annually from another unnamed scheme which they claimed was being funded from their pension funds. The Source.co.zw