By Melinda Ncube
Former workers at Shabanie Mashaba Mines in Zvishavane are accusing the company of being unfair to them after they were made to pay high amounts of money for houses in high density areas while management allegedly paid less for houses in low-density areas.
The workers were meant to benefit from the housing scheme as part their exit packages after the company went for years without paying salaries. The mine’s management is further accused of having gone against an agreement that was made with its workers by selling part of the land to outside institutions.
In an interview with Sunday News, Zimbabwe Diamond and Allied Minerals Workers general secretary Mr Justice Chinhema revealed that the SMM management evicted about 100 workers from company houses and went on to sell the properties to institutions like Midlands State University and Great Zimbabwe University.
“Employees were supposed to be charged differently depending on the areas they reside in. However, those staying in high-density areas were now required to pay higher rates than those who reside in the low-density areas. Houses from the high density, for example, Mandava, Maglas, and Kadondo became so expensive as they range from US$15 to US$25 per square meter and in low-density areas like in Hillview, Noevale and Birthday the prices were ranging around US$10 per square meter, and this is where the majority of the top management used to stay,” said Mr Chinhema.
He said for workers who had retired from the mine, management directed that rentals start to accrue from the date of retirement, a situation that resulted in some of them being evicted from the houses, yet they were not being paid salaries.
“There is no explanation how an employee suddenly becomes a tenant in a company house which saves to benefit the workers. l believe this has been done to make sure the poor workers end up owing the mine. For instance, where would a retired worker get the balances ranging from even US$2 000 up to above US$20 000? This is being done to push out workers to accommodate outsiders,” said Mr Chinhema.
SMM former administrator Mr Afaras Gwaradzimba, who was in office when most of the deals took place said the issue had already been dealt with above board.
“The properties which we sold to these institutions were as per the Government order,” said Mr Gwaradzimba. The Sunday News