The established senior management team was just a window dresser set up because they could not decide on anything. This team was set up to please some donors who seem to have observed that she was harassing and abusing workers.
Betty Makoni was the director, the human resources manager, the information officer, the publicity manager,the transport manager and the finance manager. The woman would not take any advice from anybody. We would like all donors to do their own investigations and interview past and present workers on her conduct. She treated workers like trash. Workers at GCN were slaves in the true sense of the word and we were pleading for Government intervention.
Apart from the three long serving workers, the rest hardly completed 6 months at GCN. Betty Makoni fired workers unilaterally without adherence to labour laws and created so much pressure for new employees. It was almost impossible to catch up with some issues because we would be scratching our heads in order to balance accounts and also write reports where the information was lost or destroyed. New employees spent most of the time cleaning up the mess left by previous employees and this caused unbearable high stress levels to the workers to the extent that many workers preferred to have a doctor on site.
One striking example is that of Save the Children UK (SCUK) project whose registers had to be falsely created because the information to come up with a report was not available.The implementors of the register were dismissed without a hearing. This resulted in workers coming to work from Monday to Saturday until late without taking any off days. Trying to get an off day at GCN was impossible. We were not allowed to even take off sick days. There were employees with chronic diseases who failed to seek medical attention because they were expected to report for duty everyday. The Zimbabwean labour law is clear on 12 off days, 90 days sick leave and one month vacation a year but GCN did not adhere to the laws. A new employee has a right to an off day starting from the month they start work but we were not allowed to take the off days.
We had striking cases of two or three people who were denied off sick, no off days and Betty forced the workers to take the NGO holiday as the official leave. She said all workers should fill in forms for Dec 10 to Jan 10 and that was to be taken as annual leave. That is gross violation of workers’ rights. Workers were being forced to go on holiday when she was going on holiday as well. A handful of these workers had to file their abuse cases with an NEC officer Mapisaunga at Africa Synod House at the corner of Selous and Fourth, near Dominican Convent. Musunga and Associates, a law firm was handling the matter on behalf of GCN.
One worker, Thombizodwa Mvududu was issued with 15 written warnings in one day and a further dozen also on another day for late submission of reports. This is a woman who had worked for over six years at GCN without going on leave. The woman worked non stop week in and week out with no rest .She lost her self esteem and she was psychologically drained .Thombizodwa was rebuked openly at meetings and was accused of wanting to take over GCN from Betty. Betty‘s intention was to frustrate Mvududu into resigning.
Betty Makoni is a violator of human rights who would ruthlessly deal with anyone who stood up to her. She would stop the payment of workers’ salaries if she suspected that the person was challenging her. A case in point is that of Paidamoyo Muzulu, a former Mirror reporter whose salary was taken off pay roll and also changed from US dollar to Zimdollar without his consent. Paidamoyo was constantly accused of writing stories that criticized Betty Makoni to Zimdaily .She is a very malicious person and we always thought that she must start analyzing her behaviour first before she pointed fingers at all her workers.
We were deeply traumatized and we were afraid of complaining because Betty instilled so much fear in us, particularly in old members of staff.Betty ordered Stephen Makuwa, the finance manager to stop payment of Tonderai’s salary. She accused the man of doing all sorts of evil against workers. She sent a text message to Makuwa advising him not to pay Tonderai an intern that doubles up as a person on a special mission from the States. She had initially fired him for being a CIO but later reinstated him .All workers were then told to go on forced leave because she was at loggerheads with this intern.
Stephen Makuwa, Thombzodwa Mvududu were the longest serving members of GCN. Another casual worker , Kundai Macherure only became a permanent employee after having worked for GCN for nearly 9 years as a casual worker.If this is not gross violation of human rights and workers’ rights, then what is it? The three employees were subjected to the harshest conditions at GCN but they remained resolute and committed due to desperation.
The founder member syndrome and selfishness is what was mainly causing all these problems and all she sees are people wanting to steal or take over GCN from her which she said she will never allow to happen as GCN is her property that she will never allow anyone to take over.