THE Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) subsidiary Fidelity Printers and Refiners is failing to stay afloat and plans to retrench half of its workforce despite having acquired equipment worth $20 million since 2009.
BY VICTORIA MTOMBA
Its workforce now stands at around 300.
According to sources, the company has been acquiring equipment since 2009 at inflated prices which turned out to be unsuitable for its line of business.
The equipment includes machinery such as Rapida which cost $7 million, Aedel ($6 million), MKdie Cutter, MK Die-cutting machine and speed master among others.
“Despite the company having spent $20 million on the machines, most of these are not being used and are lying idle at the company premises. The machines were acquired from Germany,” the source said.
The source said the machines could not be used because the technical people were excluded from trips when purchases were made. Management made up the delegation that went to buy the machines abroad.
The machines, according to the source, were bought from Germany and United Kingdom.
“When management came back the technical team told them that they had bought the wrong equipment, that is the reason why the machines are lying idle,” the source said.
Management at Fidelity Printers and Refiners is also being accused of living extravagant lives; buying top-of-the-range vehicles at a time the company is struggling to stay afloat.
The company has been recording losses since 2013, posting a loss of $1,3 million in 2013. The loss widened in 2014 to $3 million and is now projected at $6,6 million this year.
“In 2009 the company had 1 000 workers and it retrenched in 2010- 2012 and this year it plans to retrench 50% of its workforce that are at around 300,” the source said.
The source said the company’s board was not properly constituted with only two board members. One of the board members is said to be the human resources director, finance director as well as the chief operating officer.
Efforts to obtain comment from the company’s CEO Alen Marimbe were unsuccessful as his mobile number was unreachable.
RBZ governor John Mangudya said the bank was aiming at having all its subsidiaries becoming “centres of excellence”.
Mangudya said the Fidelity board had not approved the retrenchment exercise.
“We are going to investigate all the matters that have been brought to our attention. Some of the machines were bought before my tenure but I know of the passport printing machine and we are discussing with the Ministry of Home Affairs,” Mangudya said.
Fidelity Printers is worth over $500 million.
Fidelity Printers and Refiners has continued to increase the volume of gold it handles by 10% to 13, 899 tonnes in 2014 from 12 661 tonnes in 2013.
Deliveries are expected to increase by 7,1% in 2015 to 15 tonnes.