NRZ workers, who are owed 11 months to clear workers’ salary backlog’ salaries by the ailing State enterprise, went on strike last week demanding their outstanding salaries and allowances.
But Minister Mpofu appealed to the restive workers to bear with the organisation.
“The NRZ has no money right now to address the requests put forward by the employees,” he said. “When I took over as minister of transport, there was a resolution by the previous board to retrench half the staff at the NRZ and I resisted because I was hoping that we would have come up with a solution by now.”
Minister Mpofu was speaking at a Press conference soon after officially opening the 7th Africa Transportation Technology Transfer Conference in Bulawayo. “The ultimate solution lies with getting an investor to capitalise and rehabilitate NRZ, which is what Government is working on now,” he said. “We have been engaging a number of serious investors that are interested such as Chinese companies and the (Development Bank of Southern Africa) DBSA, but this is a process. We can’t get an investor today and things start moving tomorrow.”
“I want to assure the NRZ employees that Government is doing everything it can to address these challenges. It’s not only NRZ (that needs attention) but actually the entire Bulawayo economy itself.
“As I’ve always said, the Bulawayo economy is influenced by how the NRZ performs because of its employment force of over 20 000 workers. It’s unfortunate that it will take a bit of time for the NRZ to be back on its feet.” The workers said in 1999, when NRZ moved about 12,3 million tonnes of freight with a staff complement of 10 000 it had only one general manager and four assistant general managers.
They said now the parastatal had a staff complement of less than 6 000 employees and moves less than five million tonnes of freight per year, yet it has a general manager and five directors.