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» » » » Under pressure SMM Holdings offers houses to settle salary arrears

 …ex-workers reject offer over ‘unfair terms’

Clayton Shereni

The battle between Shabanie-Mashava Mines (SMM Holdings) and its former employees has taken a new twist, with mine authorities finding new ways to try and get rid of its ex-workers in Mashava, TellZim News can report.

Former workers, who have been holding on to properties as leverage for unpaid salaries, have now been offered a chance to buy the houses.

However, the purchase price of the houses will be set-off against salary arrears, a move which has not been well-received by the former employees who are demanding what they are owed in hard currency.

Letters signed by SMM Holdings Administrator, Afaras Gwaradzimba offers the houses on condition that the company performs some valuation exercises on the properties first, with the ex-workers required to pay for any possible difference between the value of the house and the amount they are owed in salaries.

“The property described in the paragraph above is offered to you at the discretion of SMM. The selling or purchase will be set-off against salary arrears owed to you. In the event that the total of the selling or purchase price of the property and Value Added Tax is higher than the amount owed to yourself, then you shall be liable to pay the difference within an agreed timeframe from the date of you having accepted the offer,” reads the offer letter.

TellZim has since established that houses in Temeraire are being valued at an average of US$6 000, those in Westonlee are being offered from a range of US$18 000 to US$50 000 while those in Eastvale are going for an average of US$15 000.

A former employee who was offered a visibly dilapidated house which is being valued at US$6 000 told TellZim News that the offer was an insult and it reflected badly on the company’s sincerity on settling the dispute once and for all.

“How could they possibly offer me such a ramshackle for US$6 000? What I want is my money then I vacate their house. I worked for several years to get money, and not to be mocked like this,” said the ex-employee who spoke on condition of anonymity. 

Before the offer, SMM Holdings had been evicting former workers, some of whom were served with papers that claim they owed the company since they had stayed in the houses without paying rent.

SMM Holdings owes its ex-employees over US$17 million and current workers US$19 million in unpaid salaries, a debt which has accrued in a period covering 17 years.

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