Female bus conductors working for the State-owned Zimbabwe Passenger Company (ZUPCO) have decried the tough working conditions at the public transporter.
Several conductors who spoke to CITE said they work long hours and are therefore deprived of having quality time with their families.
One of the female conductors who was interviewed by the publication revealed that they are exposed to crimes such as rape as some of the bus drivers drop them off at dangerous spots at night citing the poor road network.
A 23-year-old female ZUPCO conductor from Emthunzini suburb in Bulawayo was gang-raped and robbed of her belongings while on her way to work around 2 am in March 2021.
They also have to put up with abuse from conductors and touts employed by pirate commuter omnibus who mock them.
Lizzy Dube (not her real name), told CITE that she was beaten by her male supervisor while on duty. Narrating her ordeal, Dube said:
Sometime last year on 13 July 2020, I fought with my supervisor as he did not want to release me to seek medical attention as I had reported before duty around 4 am that I was not feeling well.
The procedure is that if you are not feeling well, you report for duty then go back home, so I followed the rules and regulations as expected.
My supervisor then went on to say that I am not allowed to go as there was a shortage of conductors that day as some went to write their examinations, he said they were going to look for someone to take over during the day, so I obeyed that and went on duty.
Around 11 am my illness got worse I couldn’t do anything anymore, I went back to report that my illness was intensifying, I couldn’t even issue out tickets, so I felt that I will end up making mistakes but they insisted that all they want is revenue and I could not go.
When I inquired why my supervisor was concerned about revenue and not my health, he said, “Musikana uyu arikupretender kurwara, ukamuona achida kuenda early so akaba mari yecompany (She is feigning sickness because she wants to knock off early because she has stolen some money). I just kept quiet as I didn’t want to cause any havoc.
He started saying all derogatory remarks calling me a prostitute but the driver also tried to explain to him that I was sick and it was burdening him too as he was now expected to open the door for the passengers but the supervisor insisted that I continue working.
The supervisor came on my side and slapped me saying I have a problem before I retaliated, I spotted the other senior supervisor, I approached him and narrated my issue to him but he also responded with ‘Vele usolo ngiyamazi uletemper’ (You know Solo has a bad temper).
As I was busy narrating further this Solo guy came back and beat me in front of the senior supervisor.
He further went on to write a report that I beat him up but, in all honesty, I was defending myself.
I was suspended for four months and went to hearings but he went to the manager and told him that other conductors are no longer giving him respect and he got a promotion two days after we fought. ZUPCO covered up the whole issue and I lost my job.
Wilson Dube, Transport and General Workers Union deputy secretary-general, said they were aware of ZUPCO female conductors’ grievances, but the bus company insisted that they were being well taken care of.