Corrupt committee fleecing residents

BY BYRON MUTINGWENDE

BINDURA – A corrupt four-member committee representing former employees of Freda Rebecca Mine is continuing to siphon money from their economically hard-pressed colleagues who are facing eviction from their houses.

The quartet comprising the chairperson Asidi Michael, Treasurer Weston Mutendi, secretary Casper Madondo and committee member Solomon Miti connived to steal from the workers when they hatched a plan to pretend to collect legal representation fees for more than 150 workers but converted it to their personal use.

“Initially the committee members led by Mudondo brought a letter allegedly signed by prominent Harare-based lawyer Alec Muchadehama which proposed that he was offering legal services to all the disgruntled former Freda Rebecca Mine workers.

“Attracted  by the reputation of the lawyer in winning various cases for his clients, all of us began to pay monthly subscriptions of $50 per person for the legal representation since 2011 to date,” said Faith Elijah Mubaya, secretary to the newly formed Ashanti former employees housing cooperative.

When contacted for comment, Muchadehama said he only knew the quartet of Michael, Madondo, Miti and Mutendi as his clients and professed ignorance of the existence of the rest of the former employees who claimed to have been paying subscriptions for legal representation.

Speaking to a team of the Advocacy and Legal Advice Centre (ALAC) – a unit of Transparency International Zimbabwe headed by Danai Mauto during a mobile legal aid clinic at Batanai Hall in Bindura on Thursday, Milton Nhliziyo, one of the affected ex-workers, said that the quartet collected money without issuing out receipts to them.

“Now that we have learnt from Muchadehama that he did not receive any cent from us, we demand an explanation from the committee members as to where they have taken our money to. We shall press fresh charges of embezzlement of funds and fraud against the quartet despite the fact that Madondo and Michael have already been dragged to the courts for fraud in a botched housing scheme,” Nhliziyo said.

The ex-workers’ woes began when Freda Rebecca Mine began re-possessing houses they were given by their initial employer Ashanti Goldfields Zimbabwe Limited under a scheme meant to address housing shortages among the workforce.

Law firm Coghlan, Welsh and Guest Legal Practitioners was the representative of the ex-workers in crafting of the title deeds and some members have receipts to that effect but the new management at Freda Rebecca Mine is disregarding that arrangement, a development that prompted workers to engage a new lawyer Muchadehama as a way of ending their plight.

The workers are also battling unfair dismissal from work and the failure to get their retrenchment packages from Freda Rebecca Mine since 2007.

Addressing the gathering, Mauto urged workers to be given receipts whenever they were making any payment.

“Without a receipt there is no evidence that money was collected from you. It is important to keep records of all the transactions you enter so as to facilitate easy reference in cases where one party might want to cheat in future.

“As ALAC we provide free legal advice to victims of corruption and where necessary pay their legal fees until justice prevails,” Mauto said.

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