THE Zimbabwe Catering and Hotel Workers’ Union (ZCHWU) allegedly converted a 20-acre agricultural plot on the outskirts of Harare into residential stands, with the leadership allegedly pocketing millions of dollars from the proceeds of the sale of housing stands without the knowledge and approval of the general membership.
The leadership and the plot board committee reportedly developed about 316 residential stands and started selling at a cost ranging between US$15 000 and US$22 000 per stand, meaning about US$6 million was raised.
ZCHWU members have engaged the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (Zacc) as they seek to weed out corruption and get justice.
Apart from selling residential stands, the president, vice-president, plot board committee members and selected national executive members are allegedly giving themselves allowances ranging between US$300 and US$500 per sitting.
In a letter read by The NewsHawks, written in June this year and addressed to Zacc, the members accused their current president and other board members of turning the plot into residential stands without consulting all stakeholders as required by the union’s constitution.
“We are writing this matter raising concerns over our union, the Zimbabwe Catering and Hotel Workers’ Union. There is blatant disregard of the constitution by the current leadership. In terms of the union constitution, Section 8 (a) management of the affairs of the union is vested in the national council. There is nothing that can be done by the union without the approval of the national council. This practice is not being followed resulting in abuse of union funds and properties,” reads the letter addressed to Zacc.
“Around 1994 or 1995 the union through the national council approved the purchase of a plot at 16 Pleasant Valley Cold Comfort, Tynwald in Harare for agriculture purposes. In 2016 the union through the National Council held a congress in Gweru and resolved that the plot be leased as farming activities had failed to yield anything meaningful. This congress ushered in new leadership which did not implement this resolution but decided to change use of the land from farming to residential stands outside the National Council resolution.”
It added: “The leadership and the plot board committee proceeded to develop about 316 residential stands and started selling at a cost ranging between US$15 000 and US$22 000.
The land development was awarded to Tresberry Land Developers without going to tender.
The president and selected national executive members are giving themselves hefty allowances of between US$300 and US$500 as sitting allowances for every meeting and this is signed in vouchers as cost of living or bonuses. There was also a dubious purchase of a house at 302 Samora Machel Avenue in Harare which is now the union’s head office at an estimated price of close to US$300 000 also without following procedure and is suspicious of being inflated.”
The stands development is also said to have resulted in the demolition of farm houses, fowl runs, dismantling of irrigation equipment and disposal of equipment, including a tractor and a plough which were allegedly clandestinely shared among the leadership in violation of section 8(f) of the union’s constitution which bars members from disposing of union property.
According to section 8(f) of the union’s constitution, there is no committee member or individual who has been given powers to either purchase or dispose of properties except the national council.
ZCHWU president Felistas Nyamunda told The NewsHawks that she was not interested in responding to any questions since she was attending the graduation ceremony of her child.
“I heard that you are looking for me, what do you want? I am attending my child’s graduation, don’t ask me anything about the union. Please write whatever you want,” Nyamunda said.
Union member Philip Matsilele told The NewsHawks that things are not looking good in the organisation with the current leadership running it like their private company while abusing funds on a massive scale.
Matsilele said funds from the sale of the plot were supposed to build a hotel and catering school as well as a hotel for the union but they ended up buying an inflated building which is now the head office.
He also said that the term of office of the current leadership elapsed in 2021 when a congress was held which ushered in a new leadership, but the current executive approached the courts challenging an election which they themselves had organised.
“The idea was to construct a hotel and catering school and a hotel for the union, but surprisingly the millions of dollars from the sale of the stands vanished, save for only a house which was bought at an inflated price. The union has over
5 000 members who are paying monthly subscriptions, but as we speak we don’t know how the funds are being used. For the past 10 years, not even a single audit was done on union financial books and this points to disaster,” said Matsilele.
“In December 2021, the union held a congress at Macheke lodges which voted out the leadership of president Felistas Nyamunda and vice-president Japhet Shumba and ushered in president Jeremiah Mutsvanga, vice-president Alois Magejo and myself as a trustee but the current leadership approached the courts challenging the process despite being the ones who organised the elections. They do not want an election and as we speak they are illegal.”
Another union member said the current leadership went to court after those that had been voted in announced that they will call for an audit before taking over, raising fear among those who were involved in the sale of the union’s plot.
“They are protecting their interests, knowing fully well that a new leadership will institute an audit which will expose their theft. As a result, an interim order nullifying the 2021 congress was granted on 4 March 2022 returning them to their positions, but from last year they are silent on new dates for an elective congress since the ruling came after we consented, thinking that a new congress was going to be quickly held,” said the union member.