Workers of Shabanie Mashava Mines SMM say the proposed reopening of the mine is a joke adding that they are tired of hearing the same story over and over again. This came out at a Mines and Energy Parliamentary Portfolio Committee hearing held in the mining town at Nyaradzai Hall. A representative of the workers said a committee led by the Chindori Chininga came and promised that the mine will be resuscitated but the later has since passed away and there is still no sign of the mine reopening.The mine’s assets were looted under the watchful eye of judicial manager, Mr A Gwaradzimba. Workers here say current Finance Minister, Patrick Chinamasa told them that no one else will ever own SMM other than government when he led a delegation to the mine a few years ago.
Explaining the state of the mine, a workers’ representative said the only person who knows what is on the ground is a Rob Shumba but the later will never mention that the mine is not in any capacity of reopening soon because of fear of victimisation. He added that there is man masquerading as the new manager of the mine but does not even know how to manage anything even himself, ‘There has been a new Company called Property and Amenities which is alleged to have taken over the mine on a contractual basis, but we are workers a of SMM not the new company. We don’t know where it came from, we don’t want to be managed by them neither do we want to be associated with them’, explained an elderly woman who attended the hearing.
An ex Shabanie Mine worker giving evidence to the committee, narrated that they earn an allowance40% of between US$70 and US$100 per month, that is if they are given the money after all. ‘40% of nothing is nothing’,charged a woman said to be representing female workers at the mine. She highlighted how they have survived without salaries since 2008.Another employee at the hearing showed media personnel a malfunctioning public toilet where workers fetch drinking water after the authorities closed the tap that was outside the toilet man years ago, ‘We are afraid that one day our children will die of cholera, we have two toilets servicing the whole compound with hundreds of residents. Our children are not going to school. We have become a laughing stock in this town’.
An employee who worked for SMM for over 20 years said he cannot afford to even buy a goat with is US$70 allowance, ‘l have lost respect from my family because I cannot even by a cow or even a mere goat with my allowance, government should tell us the truth, they are evicting us from the houses if we try to at least go and farm in our rural areas, the new owners, those ‘Property’ what what people will evict my family from the mine compound (residence)’.
The Parliamentary committee hearing ended with only two people having been allowed to give evidence to the committee, with Hon Mliswa, as chairperson, saying that the workers should put their grievances in writing through their representative as they had other pressing issues to attend to. This did not go well with the workers who expressed their frustration saying the Portfolio Committee should not have bothered to come after all.
Other issues raised by the employees besides salaries and sanitation include pensions and victimisation by the alleged new owners only identified as Property and Amenities. New Mines Minister Winston Chitando earlier this year said the government was looking for partners in their quest to resuscite the former mining giant which was closed in 2004 following an extra judicial takeover from businessman, Mutumwa Mawere pursuant to a decree promulgated by former President Robert Mugabe. The mine has since been clogged with water bodies and efforts of dewatering it are underway.
Notable MPs who sits on the committee includes MDC-T spokesperson Hon Thabitha Khumalo and former Women’s Affairs Minister Hon Nyasha Chikwinya of Zanu Pf who have since expressed no interest on the matter considering that they are women and children’s rights activists in their respective parties.The women and children they allege to represent are the ones living in dire conditions as a result of SMM closure.
The Portfolio Committee led by Norton MP Themba Mliswa was on a fact finding mission to get an clear understanding on the operations of SMM and the plight of workers in the town.The meeting was also attended by resident Zvishavane MP Hon J Holder who also seats on Mines and Energy portfolio committee.
By Conilious Toga