MPs grill minister over Hwange demo

By Blessings Mashaya

Legislators yesterday grilled Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs minister Ziyambi Ziyambi over government’s silence on the salary impasse at the Hwange Colliery Company Limited (HCCL).

Hwange Colliery workers wives demonstrating for payment of their husbands' salaries
Hwange Colliery workers wives demonstrating for payment of their husbands’ salaries

HCCL, in which Zimbabwe’s government is the biggest shareholder with 37 percent shares, is the nation’s second largest coal producer and supplies coke to national electricity company Zesa.

HCCL mines coal in the northwest of Zimbabwe on some of the southern African country’s richest coal deposits.

Spouses of HCCL workers have been camped at the company premises demanding outstanding salaries of their husbands since January 29, exposed to the weather elements.

The coal miner owes employees almost four years’ salaries.

HCCL creditors’ scheme of arrangement chairperson Andy Lawson has said there is a Scheme of Arrangement where creditors including workers have agreed to a structured payment plan to stop its equipment being auctioned off for failing to honour obligations and to also allow the colliery to borrow money from banks for working capital.

HCCL claimed it has so far paid workers according to that agreement.

HCCL management is accused of acting arrogantly by refusing to meet the striking spouses and also approaching the courts to try to force the police to disperse the strikers.

During yesterday’s question and answer session in the National Assembly, Hwange Central MDC MP Brian Tshuma asked Ziyambi, who is also the leader of government business in National Assembly, what the government was doing to solve the issue.

“The government is silent while people are suffering in Hwange what are you doing as the government to solve the problem?”

Ziyambi said he was going to put the question to the Mines and Mining Development minister Winston Chitando.

Chairperson of the parliamentary portfolio committee on Energy and Mines Temba Mliswa said the issue now needs the intervention of President Emmerson Mnangagwa.

“I think the minister needs to go and tell Mnangagwa to solve this issue, we had our tour as the committee, people are suffering, children and women are sleeping in the open and the matter need to be solved without delay.” DailyNews