CHAOS reigned last week at Chisumbanje ethanol plant after Green Fuel called in riot police to disperse its employees who were on strike over the non-payment of salaries. The workers have gone for seven months without pay.
Deployed from Changazi Support Unit camp in Birchenough Bridge two days after the strike broke out last week Wednesday, the riot police wasted no time in throwing teargas and using batons to disperse the workers. Over 500 workers had downed tools and camped at the country’s sole ethanol producer demanding their dues.
Though no official number of injured workers could be established, several employees suffered injuries of varying degrees. A driver identified as Mucheza was admitted at St Peters Mission Hospital including Talent Never, a Form Four student at Katanga Secondary school, who was also admitted at Takwirira Clinic after being caught up in the crossfire.
Former District Ethanol Plant Implementation Committee spokesperson, Claris Madhuku, confirmed the incident saying riot police ordered the workers to vacate the company premises because their actions were tantamount to sabotaging Zimbabwe’s fuel industry.
“When they (riot police) arrived at the ethanol plant, there was no time for discussion but they simply ordered everyone to disperse because they were sabotaging the economy by stopping the company from producing the needed ethanol fuel,” he said.
Agricultural and Rural Development Authority (ARDA) board chairperson, Basil Nyabadza, said he was yet to be appraised on last week’s incident.
“I’m about to get into a meeting to get an appraisal of the issues there,” said Nyabadza without elaborating.
Green Fuel is a joint venture between the government entity — owned Arda and private companies, Macdom and Rating Investments owned by business tycoon Billy Rautenbach. Green Fuel has been seriously affected by cash-flow challenges following low production of ethanol, which has forced government to reduce the blending threshold from E10 to E5.
Last year, the Zimbabwe National Water Authority cut water supplies to the struggling ethanol producer over an outstanding US$7 million debt. Water was only reconnected after the two entities had agreed on a payment plan to extinguish the debt. – Financial Gazette