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Hwange workers cry foul

By Blessings Mashaya

Workers at Hwange Colliery were so emotional when they recently met Parliament’s Mines Portfolio Committee which is chaired by legislator Temba Mliswa.

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

The workers, who narrated sad stories about their desperate plight as they near destitution, pleaded with Mliswa for his intervention as the company is failing to pay them their pensions and salaries.

“We are happy you are here as Parliament, workers here are being treated like animals. Our management doesn’t respect workers.

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“As workers we have sacrificed our lives for this company, we need to be respected after going for five years without salaries.

“We are being told that the company is now under reconstruction and they are not able to pay us. We would want to see a competent management,” Hwange workers’ committee chairperson Deliverance Nyoni told Mliswa’s committee.

According to the workers, the situation is so bad that parents can no longer afford to take care of their families’ needs like school fees, medical bills and food.

“We don’t have anything to feed our families, my children dropped from school because I don’t have money for schools fees. We are struggling to buy food for our families,” a worker who identified himself as Christopher said.

The workers also said the issue of reconstruction is not benefiting them in any way.

“I am not scared. I want to tell you that there are certain bigwigs who are benefiting from this crisis. The company is not insolvent, there are some who only want to benefit,” Nyoni said.

Former Mines minister Fred Moyo and incumbent Mines minister Winston Chitando were fingered for destroying the company.

“Chitando appointed failed managers to run this company. He took the managers he was working with at Zimasco and appointed them here. These managers caused the closure of Zimasco. These people come and run down mines and maybe one of the qualifications for becoming a minister is to run down a mine.”

Engineering workers’ committee vice chairperson Casper Ndlovu accused the management of various corruption activities.

“About 30 000 tonnes of coal were taken to Mozambique with the management saying they were looking for a customer to buy it, but up to now nothing came out of that coal. Surprisingly the storage fee was paid for the coal. There was also a spiral plant, which was sold by Hwange for $500 000, but the following year, the same plant was resold for $7 million.”

Hwange was last month placed under reconstruction in a bid to set it on the course to profitability, following a number of viability challenges, which many have attributed to corruption and mismanagement.

The company is heavily indebted and owes the government in excess of $150 million, amid claims that its liabilities outstrip the value of its assets. DailyNews