Victoria Falls residents earlier this week teamed to block a construction company bringing in staff from Harare and forced the immediate dismissal of 22 employees that had just been bused in by the firm.

The company, Masimba Construction Company, is building a $13 million shopping mall in the resort town due for completion early next year.

On Monday the company brought in 29 workers from Harare much to the disgruntlement of locals who demanded that they be immediately sent back to the capital.

There was chaos in the evening as residents mobilised and gathered at Chinotimba Bus Terminus where they forced 29 workers onto a Harare-bound bus.

The locals protested until police intervened and called for negotiations between the residents’ association leadership and the construction company.

After lengthy deliberations at the local police station, Masimba Construction admitted on Tuesday that they had erred by flouting an agreement made with residents.

A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) singed between the parties in February this year obliged the company to employ locals as “part of its corporate social responsibility” programmes.

After the meeting, Victoria Falls Combined Residents Association Morgen Dube said, as residents, they would not allow importation of workforce especially for unskilled jobs.

“We reached a compromise that only seven who are skilled can remain, but the rest should go back because we have locals who have to be employed. We can’t allow importation of people for work when locals are equally competitive,” said Dube.

He said 22 other workers had been ordered out of Victoria Falls, adding that the association would monitor to “make sure none of them is employed nicodemously”.

“We asked for engagement after a resident tipped us as we are strongly against importation of labour.

“What came out of the meeting was that Masimba had hurriedly engaged Wedge Construction without going through tender and hence the busing of people which we have stopped,” said Dube.

Hwange West Member of Parliament Godfrey Dube also condemned the conduct of Masimba Construction saying they should respect locals.

Victoria Falls residents have repeatedly expressed concern over marginalization of locals in terms of employment opportunities with most companies opting to bring people from other provinces.

Chief Nelukoba of Dete in Hwange was recently quoted complaining about a deliberate side-lining of locals in employment especially at government projects.

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