Court To Finally Hear Mpofu/Journos Case, Decision Expected By End Of Week

THE case in which about 20 journalists and tens other support staff of Economic Planning minister Obert Mpofu’s closed newspaper was this week heard before an arbitrator and could be decided in a week.

Mpofu’s The Zimbabwe Mail hit the streets late 2013 but it was converted into a weekly early this year before being forced to shut down on March 20.

Journalist and other staffers at the financially troubled paper had gone for nearly half a year without pay.

The minister, who has declared in the past that he has never been poor, according to affected journalists, has been ‘dodging” seeking postponement after another but this week arbitrator Zakeyo Mutimutema decided to go ahead without Dumisani Mthombeni, Mpofu’s lawyer.

“Mpofu has been frustrating the case for a long time even when the journalists, majority of who are yet to find jobs, pulled their meagre resources to pay the arbitrator’s fee.

“Mthombeni has been seeking postponements of the case citing one reason after another and this week claimed he is in Egypt for some electoral process,” one former reporter said.

“Some are struggling to even put food on the table while Mpofu owes them thousands that could at least in the immediate term make a major contribution to their condition. It is cruelty on Mpofu’s part to keep jumping around when he knows we have no other source of income.”

Following the passing of the infamous July 17th Supreme Court judgment that gave employers power to terminate contracts on notice, Mpofu took advantage and terminated the workers’ contracts promising to pay outstanding salaries plus the mandatory three months’ notice.

He however did not give any dates as to when he would be able to pay, according to the workers.

Media reports claim Mpofu has been trying to sell his printing press that was curiously registered under a different company other than the newspaper.

It has also been reported that Mpofu had registered The Zimbabwe Mail under a shelf company Fruitlink Ventures that had no assets save for a few desktop computers.

The paper reportedly ran into trouble after Mpofu roped in his daughter Nomsa as chief executive officer when “her only qualification is a hotel and catering certificate”. source-newzimbabwe


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