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Sapes Trust hits hard times

Mthulisi Mathuthu

THE future of the Ibbo Mandaza-chaired Southern African Political Economy Series (Sapes) trust has been plunged into uncertainty after workers were told to go home beca

use the research agency could no longer afford to pay them.

Ex-workers this week said they were on May 2 told by now suspended executive director Mafa Mosothoane Sejanamane to go home and that they would only be recalled after the organisation had obtained funds from donors.

At the time Sejanamane told the workers that he was negotiating with the Africa Capacity Building Foundation but was later suspended by Mandaza upon his return from the United Kingdom.

The organisation has failed to pay workers their April and May salaries. Only workers in the research department were paid from Mandaza’s company, the Southern African Publishing and Printing House (Sappho), publishers of the Daily Mirror and Sunday Mirror.

Only a fortnight ago, Sejanamane in court papers challenging his dismissal, accused Mandaza of diverting funds to Sappho and warned of the imminent collapse of Sapes.

Workers said problems had been bubbling under the surface at the troubled agency for about a year and only last August Mandaza reportedly banned the workers’ committee after they pressed for an increment and clarification on the relationship between Sappho and Sapes.

Asked for comment the Sapes boss told the Zimbabwe Independent last week that his organisation was “still alive and well”. But his subordinates confided to the Independent that “many workers” had been sent home because of “cash-flow problems”.

Sapes got into difficulties in 2001 after donors, Hivos and Norad, stopped funding the agency after Mandaza refused to have financial records audited.

Then leading scholars, including Sam Moyo and Tanzanian Mwesiga Baregu, were squeezed out.

Previous internal reports have pointed to Mandaza’s heavy handedness as the reason for the agency’s decline. He has been at the helm of the regional body since its formation in 1989.

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