HARARE – The MDC headquarters was left empty yesterday after the Deputy Sheriff pounced on the opposition party’s offices and seized property in order to settle a $108 000 debt owed to one of the party’s former employees.
The Deputy Sheriff arrived at the MDC offices, along Nelson Mandela Avenue, in Harare, at around 9am.
They disrupted a meeting that was being presided over by party leader Morgan Tsvangirai who, to his credit, ordered his lieutenants to allow the surrogate to do his job, peacefully.
MDC supporters and officials heeded Tsvangirai’s directive hence the exercise was done without incident.
The former prime minister is said to have left his offices soon after giving the directive.
Party spokesperson Obert Gutu said MDC lawyers were proceeding to lodge an urgent chamber application for stay of execution.
“It’s just a small labour issue involving one of the party’s former employees by the name Sally Dura,” said Gutu.
“The matter is now being handled by our lawyers who are proceeding to lodge an urgent chamber application for stay of execution pending the hearing of our appeal in the Supreme Court . . . You can be assured that our party assets would be returned to us very, very soon,” he added.
Dura, along with 15 other MDC employees, won an arbitration award for $600 000 for unfair dismissal.
Following the award, the MDC is said to have appealed and subsequently lost the appeal at the Labour Court.
The applicants then applied for the quantification of the award.
Dura is owed up to 27 months salary arrears, damages for 36 months and other benefits.
MDC Gweru urban Member of Parliament Sessel Zvidzai, who was at the party headquarters watching helplessly as the attachments were being executed, alleged that the development was the work of Zanu PF.
“They (Zanu PF) want to harass us ahead of the 2018 elections. We were having our meeting and they disrupted (it) . . . This is a small issue; they cannot stop us,” Zvidzai told reporters.
Probably expecting resistance from MDC supporters, heavily-armed riot police officers with water cannons were deployed to guard more than eight trucks from the deputy sheriff’s office which were loading furniture.
They blocked Nelson Mandela Avenue for more than four hours while loading the opposition party’s moveable property.
Police officers who were holding guns could be seen at corner Angwa Street and Nelson Mandela Avenue, directing vehicles to avoid using the one way street, named after the former South African president.
Some police officers who were stationed at corner Nelson Mandela and First Street were also blocking pedestrians from using Nelson Mandela Avenue.
Some of the armed police officers were guarding people who were loading the property, fearing that the MDC supporters could harass them.
Interestingly, some of the supporters provided the police with entertainment as they cracked jokes saying “you can’t find a wheelchair in our office”.
Even the police officers who were wearing serious faces started to laugh at the jokes.
Some supporters even bought food, which includes the traditional Mahewu brew and bananas to give the police officers but they refused.
The labour-backed party has a series of disputes with its former employees.
In 2015, the Deputy Sheriff raided Tsvangirai’s residence in Highlands and the party headquarters but failed to attach any property. This was after the MDC reportedly terminated contracts of 13 security aides in August 2010 before the Labour Court reversed the decision and ordered the party to reinstate them with full benefits.
Judge Justice Priscilla Chigumba ordered the party to pay a five percent interest on the varying amounts awarded to the employees in addition to the legal costs.
The Deputy Sheriff left Tsvangirai’s house and the party headquarters empty-handed after the MDC produced a court order staying the execution. – Daily News