By Nkosilathi Sibanda
Leading coal mining giant, Hwange Colliery Company Limited (HCCL) has terminated all privileges it used to render local chiefs as part of its Corporate Social Responsibility.
Previously, the listed company, dating back to its formative years in the 1890s, undertook a social contract with traditional leaders in the district. The company’s undertaking was that it will honour its pledge to assist traditional leaders in the Hwange district. Hwange district has five chiefs, Whange, Nekatambe, Dingani Nekuloba, Mvuthu and Shana.
Part of the privileges HCCL gave to the chiefs included free housing, medical care, fuel and other fringe offers which included food hampers. Chiefs who stay in company houses are now supposed to pay US$160 a month for rentals. In a letter addressed to the chiefs by HCCL’s corporate affairs and marketing manager Mrs. Rugare Dhobbie, the company advised that it was no longer giving free accommodation, fuel and other benefits to chiefs.
“As you may be aware, HCCL is on a recovery path and is devising ways in which to cut costs wherever possible, this will enable the organisation to provide better services such as water reticulation services, potable water, refuse collection, and road rehabilitation to the community at large beginning of 2021. For this reason, we are unfortunately unable to continue providing accommodation at no cost, fuel, and any other services rendered to you by the organisation…” read part of the letter dated 11 December 2020.
In the letter, Mrs. Dhobbie said the company placed an offer to the chiefs that those who opt to continue staying at company houses must be able to pay a certain fee in rentals.
Chief Nekatambe who stays at an HCCL property is already paying rent but is not amused at the move taken by the colliery. Sunday News learnt that it has also not been easy for Chief Whange, who also stays at a company-owned house. The move by HCCL has even surprised the Minister of State for Matabeleland North Provincial Affairs and Devolution Cde Richard Moyo. Minister Moyo said he was unaware of the new developments.
“I have not heard of that. I am shocked. I will have to get in touch with the District Administrator (District Development Co-ordinator) so that he checks with the company management on the issue.” The Sunday News