Zvishavane MP Obert Matshalaga (Zanu PF) says business magnate Mutumwa Mawere, who has just returned from self-imposed exile in South Africa, should be given a chance to revive his business empire including his flagship firm Shabanie Mashava Mines (SMM Holdings) for the sake of the community and the nation.
Matshalaga said too many people had suffered unnecessarily since the collapse of the asbestos mines and news of Mawere’s return had brought hope to Mashava and Zvishavane residents.
“It (SMM) was the biggest employer and its failure to perform has affected every other business in Zvishavane,” Matshalaga said.
“Employees of SMM Holdings in Zvishavane have experienced untold suffering and many professional people have reduced themselves to demeaning means of survival.”
He said workers at the mine had not been paid for over a year and there seemed no end in sight to their plight.
“There seems to be no solutions to the problem at SMM Holdings and no one seems to give a definite position on how it could be revived,” Matshalaga said.
“The mine is under curatorship and it is difficult to tell what is happening because this is a judicial process and we are not supposed to interfere.”
He said when he heard Mawere was back in the country he was happy and hoped the government would seriously consider giving him back his empire so he could revive it and help end the suffering of workers at the mine.
The mines started to show signs of difficulty in 2005 until business eventually ground to a halt between 2008 and 2009.
SMM has a huge debt and such a poor credit rating it is unable to raise capital base.
The mines got flooded when the company failed to pay electricity bills.
As a result water pumps and all other operations ceased to function and the mines flooded, submerging mining equipment underground.
Matshalaga said he was worried about environmental degradation caused by illegal mining activities by redundant workers trying to eke out a living.
“People in Zvishavane have been surviving through selling firewood and illegal panning activities which have become a threat to the environment.
These people are miners by profession and when their mines are not operational they end up engaging in illegal mining activities,” he said.
Last year, the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Mines and Energy, chaired by Guruve South MP Edward Chindori-Chininga, visited Shabanie Mine and was alarmed at the disorder there.