Zamcapitol workers demand salary arrears

ZAMCAPITOL workers, who have gone for a year and a month without salaries, have complained of management failure at the state run company and want new management.

Some workers anonymously told The Mast for fear of victimisation that they had a “management crisis”.

They said the Zamcapital management headed by retired Zambia Army commander General Nobby Simbeye had literally failed to transform and improve the company that manufacturers pots, toe caps, windmills and hammer mills, among other products.

Zamcapitol was formally run by the Ministry of Defence but now falls under the Industrial Development Corporation.

A visit to the company premises in the industrial area in Lusaka found it in utter desolation, with an unkempt surrounding and dry grass.

“For over one year, one month now, Zamcapitol workers have not been paid their salaries. Workers are given advances of K250 to K800 sometimes to sustain themselves and their families, which can’t even pay rentals yet managers are living in houses paid for by the company,” complained one of the workers on behalf of others, who have been frequenting the company pushing for payments. “He [Gen Simbeye] has done away with the main business of manufacturing pots, which were popular on the shelves of most of the shops throughout the country. We were given a privilege to supply pots to all ZNS camps in Zambia but he has done away with that line, he doesn’t want it. Bimalu are surviving and they are just into pots. Malawi wants Zamcapitol pots, people from Kasumbalesa would come just to order pots. Apart from that we have some housing units, which are bringing in a little bit of income, surely can’t management give us salaries, even two months salaries? We are just 43 workers, meanwhile the PF government says it is a pro-poor government!”

He said the little income the company generated from its housing units was spent on management while the poor workers were fighting with landlords daily and were barely surviving.

“There are two box files full with pending payments of advances, commutations, medical applications, education advances in the cashier’s office since 2014 to date, which have not been paid. Most of the junior staff have not been able to take their children to school and fail to pay their rentals,” he complained.

The employee said the planned sale of the company’s Lamasat building on Cairo Road at a price lower than the evaluation cost was questionable.

He said Gen Simbeye reports for work at 10:00 hours and knocks off at 14:30 hours.

“He is over the age of 77 years, he can’t perform. He is supposed to be resting at home. Zamcapitol workers are wondering as to why the Ministry of Defence [and IDC now] still wants to keep him when he has done nothing. His contract expired two years ago. Since he joined the company in 2014, he has never come up with new ideas to improve the organisation but has instead destroyed it by selling assets that he found. There is need for productive people to run the company, which can do very well with the kind of products that are manufactured here,” the employee said on behalf of others.

He said Gen Simbeye even stopped a businessman, who brought in his own materials for pots and was paying the company for the services.

“Here we need people who are innovative, people who think. We have gone for four years without a budget. How can you run a company like that? And those four years is since he [General Simbeye] came. Now people are running around doing reports because IDC has told them that they want audited reports, so they are doing reports from 2013,” the employee said.

He also demanded capitalisation of the parastatal, which according to them, had a lot of potential.

“If one is ready to work, how can one report at 11:00 hours and knocks off at 14:30 hours? And he draws a full salary, gets fuel, talk time, golf subscription, rentals, food! It’s like it’s his company where he can walk in and out at any time,” he said.

“Zamcapitol workers have suffered at the hands of the general manager; some have been fired and lost their benefits because the general manager doesn’t like them. Workers are afraid to say anything against management for fear of victimisation. So far 5 junior staff members are on forced leave since June 2015 for no apparent reason. What we want is new management here. They [IDC] should look into this seriously. This management that is here is incompetent.”

Gen Simbeye’s secretary, who answered his phone, claimed he was in a short meeting and promised to phone back but never did on Wednesday.

Eleven subsequent calls went unanswered and later the phone was switched off.

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