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Spar Zimbabwe should take full responsibility for heinous murder of its employee!

17 Feb 2023 at 14:48hrs | Views
This morning, I had the inspiration to pen an article on an entirely different topic - which is in the same mould as my usual social justice advocacy on matters bedevilling ordinary Zimbabweans.

However, I could not shake off the haunting thoughts that traumatized me the whole of last night - when I was got wound of the events of Monday, whereby the body of an employee of the retail chain supermarket, Spar Zimbabwe, was discovered gruesomely murdered and mutilated, as she was on way back home after leaving work in Hatfield (Harare) late evening on Sunday.

This heinous act of brutality and heartlessness was just too much for me to ignore and merely dismiss as just another callous killing, in a long string of similar occurrences that have hogged media headlines in the recent past.

What made this particular case stand up in my mind was how preventable it was - had Spar Zimbabwe played its role as a law abiding responsible employer.

There was really no need for this young lady, Faith Musonza, to have been moving around, without safe transportation, at that late time of the evening - after having knocked off work well after 19:00 hours - in a country already notorious for a disturbing increase in murder cases.

The country's constitution, under section 65(1), is unambiguously clear as it mandates employers to ensure 'the right to fair and safe labor practices and standards' for their workers.

Surely, what can ever be clearer than that!

In so doing, what 'safe labour practices and standards' were at play when Spar Zimbabwe found it unproblematic for its employees - more so, a young woman, whose gender is more vulnerable and prone to such horrendous attacks - to be traveling back home at such a precarious hour without providing her with secure mode of transportation?

Now that there is a mourning husband who has lost his beloved wife, and grieving children who have been bereaved of their dear mother - who does Spar believe should shoulder the blame for this needless death?

Who has to bear full responsibility for this young lady's death, who had a whole life ahead of her - but, callously robbed, as a direct consequence of an employer who values profit over the welfare and safety of those who are daily giving their all for the company?

What hurts me so much is wondering what exactly Spar management and executives would be thinking each time they dismiss their workers at such late hours.

How do they think they will get back to their families?

Do they even take time in being concerned about their safety?

Do they ever consider what the laws of the country dictate regarding the safety and wellbeing of employees - as much as common sense would have sufficed, since such matters are not really rocket science.

Clearly not!

What Spar did, and is doing, is undeniably worse than slavery - since, even during the colonial times, companies ensured that their workers were provided with adequate transportation (whether by means of cars, busses, or even traveling at the back of open trucks/tractor trailers) - but, they were relatively safe.

Yet, today, in spite of the constitutional provision for 'the right to fair and safe labor practices and standards', we still find companies as Spar placing their workers' welfare at peril - even in the midst of indubitable dangers associated with commuting - not only at that time of day, but especially so for women.

As a matter of fact, what happened to Faith is just the tip of the iceberg, in an ocean of the brazen abuse and mistreatment of workers across the country.

This same constitutional provision also enshrines the right for workers 'to be paid a fair and reasonable wage'.

I even shudder to imagine how much Faith was earning from Spar - despite not only working hard for this company to make big profits, but her life being placed in danger.

I seriously doubt whether these workers are even on any medical aid plan, or pension scheme - leaving most without hope for any kind of terminal benefits at the end of their tenures.

Furthermore, we have numerous reports of hundreds of workers employed by mining companies - especially in the gold industry, some listed as the largest producers in the country - perishing in the course of their duties in deep underground shafts.

There was the case of another young lady working for state-owned bus operator, ZUPCO, who was savagely raped as she proceeded to work in the wee hours of the morning - as a result of her employer, who is ironically in the transport business, not providing employees with a safe way of commuting to and fro work.

It would not shock me at all if Spar's Faith - as two thirds of the workforce in Zimbabwe - was being paid far below the poverty datum line, and finding it extremely difficult to help fend for her family, or put food on the table.

That is the tragic sorrowful plight of employees in this country - who are subjected to the most horrendous working conditions, as if they were of absolutely no worth at all.

They give everything they have for the good of their companies - yet, in turn, they are treated as modern day slaves, with employers who would not give a hoot whether they lived or died.

I found it rather insulting reading a statement by Spar to the effect that Faith was their 'valued member'!

Valued member, my foot!

If this is how Spar treats those they consider 'valued', I do not even want to thing how they treat their enemies!

It, therefore, goes without saying that, such companies as Spar - which, willfully violate their employees' constitutional rights - need to be held completely responsible and accountable for their negligent and callous acts.

In fact, I implore affected families to institute litigation - be it criminal or/and civil - against those companies who, either through omission or commission, caused their loved ones' deaths, or injury, or disability.

Of course, such action can never bring back those they lost - nonetheless, this will send a strong unequivocal message to employers to begin respecting the legal rights of their workers - whilst at the same time, valuing the enormous contribution they are making towards their huge profit margins.

Similarly, workers can no longer afford to keep quiet, as their rights are cruelly trampled up by greedy employers - who only care about dividends and profits - with scant regard for the safety and welfare of those who are actually doing the work on the ground.

The more employees stay silent, the more they allow their employers to get away with murder, literally - and, as happened to Faith, the workers themselves will be the victims.

- Tendai Ruben Mbofana is a social justice advocate, writer, researcher, and social commentator. Please feel free to WhatsApp or Call: +263715667700 | +263782283975, or email: mbofana.tendairuben73@gmail.com


Source - Tendai Ruben Mbofana
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