By Martin Muleya
MUTARE-Fifteen tourism and hospitality attachees who were doing there work-related learning at a local hotel in Mutare, were on Saturday morning given marching orders over a broken tea-pot lid.
The 15 poor students whom some had commenced their attachment in January and June this year hailed from Mutare Polytechnic ,Magamba Vocational training with others coming as far as ,Lupane state University and Harare Polytechnic College.
The 15 are Jamillah Mponda, Marvelous Tungurwi, Marjory Zvinoitavanhu, Privilege Chirisa, Phenias Gombe(Mutare Polytechnic), Martha Mhoni (Lupane State University), Deon Nyambayo (Magamba Vocational training centre), Lovely Chikwengo, Munashe Murato and Lorna Mutenje (Mutare Vocational training centre), Wish Mbofana, Samantha Nango, Shylet Mugadziwa and Priscilla Singadi (Zimdef) had all their attachment duration terminated for ‘failing’ the fundamental requirement of hospitality, that of protecting the property of hotel above all their loyalty to each other.
According to the hotel owner these students conspired as a group to cause harm to the interest of Leopard Rock hotel and its guests and their continued presence would only indicate a cover up culture.
Samir Shasha owner of the Leopard Rock hotel in Vumba, Mutare gave the students blanket dismissal for all of them after discovering a broken tea-pot cover in the washing bay, the previous day.
Frothing with anger, Shasha then directed his head chef to tell the trainees to reveal the name of the person who had broken the tea-pot lid and they had one hour to do that, failure of which they would all be dismissed.
“Previous if the person or persons responsible for breaking the teapot lid (which I found at the washing bay yesterday morning) has not come forward, please send all your trainees and all service trainees home. Let them know they should pack as they will no longer be working at Leopard Rock.The person has one hour to present themselves.
I am sorry to inform all F&B trainees that their stay here will be terminated. All references and recommendations will include a mention that the individual was not cooperative in identifying the person or persons involved in breakages,” said Shasha in a WhatsApp chat sent to his chef and seen by this publication.
Shasha vowed that all the affected students who were working in the kitchen, bar and restaurant affected by his decision, if ever they would need recommendation he will make sure that he mentions that the individual was not cooperative in identifying the person or persons involved in breakages.
As if that is not enough he also vowed that no trainee would receive a reference that is not personally approved or signed by him.
One of the affected students who spoke to this publication on condition of anonymity countered that they were surprised on Saturday morning to hear that their boss had decided to terminate their work-related learning period simply because they had failed to provide the name of the culprit who had broken the tea-pot cover.
“We were shocked to hear that Mr Shasha had terminated our work-related learning period because we had been reluctant to provide name(s) of the culprit who had broken the tea-pot lid. He fired all of us who were working in the bar as well as those in the kitchen and restaurant. After that he instructed Human Resource officer Wilfred Munetsi together with a security guard to thoroughly search our barracks and quad before we go and collect our belongings so that he is sure we did not take anything belonging to the hotel.
“Mr Munetsi was ordered to give us US$40 each as our month’s allowance before we leave the premises of which he did. Martha who hailed from Bulawayo begged to sleep for a night and was allowed. The following day he had to hunt for transport to return her back to her base in Bulawayo using the meagre US$40 she had been given,” highlighted the student.
Shasha during the course of the interview with this reporter insisted that items are broken all the time and there is a sheet in the kitchen to record breakages which was not filled.
He said it was clear to all who served tea at breakfast and who collected the items and who was to do the washing that they all in unison decided to support the silence of one individual. Basically that individual was willing to see all his or her colleagues have their attachment terminated rather than be rebuked for neglecting to record the breakage.
Adding that if they could not do that simple exercise then they don’t belong in the hospitality industry and credibly don’t belong to his hotel either.
“They were told through Munashe and Martha the previous day that if the person doesn’t come forward they will all have their training terminated. The point is items are broken all the time and there is a sheet in the kitchen to record breakages. It was not filled. It was clear to all who served tea at breakfast and who collected the items and who was to do the washing. Yet they all in unison decided to support the silence of one individual.
“Basically that individual was willing to see all his or her colleagues have their attachment terminated rather than be rebuked for neglecting to record the breakage.
“Worse, the entire group was willing to have their training terminated and jeopardize their requirements – rather than identify the person they knew had jeopardizes hotel property without reporting. If they cannot do that, they don’t belong in the industry. They credibly don’t belong in my hotel,” fumed Shasha.
Asked if this matter of a broken tea-pot cover wasn’t so trivial that no such stern should have been warranted especially regarding being had to the fact that these were mere students who deserved your sympathy and education, the Leopard Rock hotel owner did not mince his words as he said the students concerned had all agreed to meet fire with fire.
“What upset me initially was that they claimed they were given only an hour. They had a full day and night and the next day to establish a position and they obviously took a confrontational decision. If I changed my position I would simply have chaos.
“They had a beef. They have a point. Some of them were not on duty. Some of them were afraid to speak up.
“But I couldn’t pick and choose. I really thought they would impress on the person who broke the item to come forward and admit to it but when that didn’t happen, the forced me into my position. I would never have any level of discipline if I backed down. So the issue is whether collectively punishing all of them was justified or not.
“I could have understood it if the responsible person would have been punished but it is clear no one recording breakages has ever been punished. So the decision to close ranks was effectively a threat,” he concluded.