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Mbada Diamonds workers sue employer over unpaid salaries

By Mashudu Netsianda

More than 50 Mbada Diamonds Company workers have taken their employer to court over nearly $1 million in unpaid salaries, overtime and pension contributions.

We want our Money: Former Mbada Diamonds Workers camped at the company HQ in Harare
We want our Money: Former Mbada Diamonds Workers camped at the company HQ in Harare in 2015

Mr Raymond Matereke and 52 others, through their lawyers, Webb, Low and Barry, have filed summons at the Bulawayo High Court citing Mbada Diamonds and Marsh Employee Benefits Zimbabwe (Pvt) Ltd as defendants.

The workers accuse Mbada Diamonds of breaching the terms of their employment contracts by failing to pay them their dues and remitting their pension contributions to Marsh Employee Benefits Zimbabwe.

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They are seeking an order directing the mining company to pay them $927 833,18 in outstanding salaries, overtime, accrued leave days and gratuities as at 1 August 2017 including general damages over the company’s failure to remit their pension fund contributions.

The court papers did not show when Mbada Diamonds employed the workers.

“At various times, the first defendant (Mbada Diamonds) entered into employment contracts with plaintiffs. During the subsistence of each employment contract, the plaintiffs rendered services to Mbada Diamonds, which services they had been contracted to perform by the first defendant,” said the workers in their plaintiff declaration.

They said the company is only acknowledging owing them $636 125,01.The workers said despite demand, they were struggling to recover their monies from Mbada Diamonds.

“It was a material term of each respective employment contract that Mbada Diamonds would pay each one of us in full, salaries for services rendered during the subsistence of the employment relationship.

In breach of the employment contract, Mbada Diamonds has failed or neglected to pay the salaries, overtime, accrued leave days and gratuities,” said the workers.

“Furthermore, in breach of each contract, Mbada Diamonds failed or neglected to remit certain amounts due in respect of both employer and employee pension fund contributions to Marsh Employee Benefits Zimbabwe despite having made deductions for such contributions from each respective plaintiff’s gross salary.

“The workers want an order that compels Mbada Diamonds to pay the money with an interest calculated from 1 August 2017 to the date of full and final payment and the cost of suit at attorney-client scale.

“Wherefore the plaintiffs claim is for the first defendant to pay $845 506,32 in outstanding salaries, overtime, accrued leave day and gratuities and $82 326,86 in general damages,” read the summons.

Mbada Diamonds has not yet responded to the summons.

The firm has fallen on hard times with several other cases pitting it are yet to be determined by the High Court. Last year, a local mechanical engineering company, Warman Zimbabwe (Pvt) Ltd took the diamond mining company to court for failing to settle debt of more than $800 000 accrued over a period of five-years.

The debt emanated from mining equipment and accessories, which Mbada Diamonds bought from the engineering firm on credit between January 2010 and June 2015.

In November 2014, the Harare High Court ordered the mining company to pay up debts amounting to $700 000 after the company failed to defend claims by Tandamanzi Drilling and Hennem Investments for $230 000 and $469 365. This prompted Justice Joseph Mafusire to rule in favour of the creditors.

Tandamanzi Drilling was engaged by Mbada to undertake core drilling services at Marange diamond fields.

In terms of the agreement, Mbada was supposed to foot all the costs incurred by Tandamanzi in the execution of the task and payment for actual service.

Mbada would pay for the incurred costs upon production of invoices by Tandamanzi. Tandamanzi carried out the services and produced invoices for extra costs incurred.

The bill, according to the invoices, totalled $570 742 but Mbada Diamonds only paid $340 000, leaving a balance of $230 742.

Mbada Diamonds did not pay the balance on demand. Mbada acknowledged the debt and promised to settle it through monthly instalments, but failed. The Chronicle