Company closes after forces fail to pay

Failure by the army, police and prison services to pay for combat boots supplied by a shoe manufacturing company, Eagle Italian Shoes and Leather, has reportedly forced the company to shut down.

The company owned by an Italian national, Song Lee, employs 60 people. It failed to re-open after the festive season, as it was owed more than $3.5m by government.

The company, six kilometres out of Marondera, manufactures an average of 450 pairs of military combat boots a day. Each pair costs $68 and the defaulting government departments were the biggest customers.

The debts stretch back as far as three years. “The bad state of the company’s accounts was revealed by the company owner, who advised the unpaid workers to collect their dues from government, since it owed him millions of dollars for delivered footwear,” said one employee.

The worker claimed that their situation was made desperate because their employer had failed to inform the workers’ committee about the true state of affairs.

When the company first showed signs of fatigue last year, 60 workers were laid off.

There were conflicting figures for salaries earned by the workers, with some claiming the lowest pocketed $198 a month and others saying the figure stood at $230 for the lowest paid grade.

When there were power cuts, the workers claimed, most of them took home only $90 at the end of the month.

Song could not be reached for comment as he was reportedly out of the Country. Efforts to get comment from company managers were also fruitless.

Zimbabwe Prisons spokesperson, Elizabeth Banda, could neither confirm nor deny the allegations, but said she would make enquiries.

Both the police and army did not respond to questions.

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