Government cannot remove itself from the responsibility of making sure that employees at Shabanie Mashaba Mines (SMM) Holdings are compensated for the years they have worked without pay and should pay them as soon as possible, MDC-T MPs have said.
Moses Mare, MP for Chiredzi West, who is also a member of the Parliamentary Committee on Mines and Energy, said if Justice and Legal Affairs minister Patrick Chinamasa claimed government and not businessman Mutumwa Mawere owned SMM Holdings, then government should be held responsible for the suffering experienced by workers at the asbestos mines.
Mare and Masvingo West MP Tachiona Chiminya Mharadza charged Chinamasa could not get away with claims that Mawere no longer owned SMM Holdings, yet at the same time wash his hands to say there was no solution to the workers’ plight unless an investor were to pump in $115 million to resuscitate the collapsing mining giant.
“That is very irresponsible on the part of Chinamasa because he told the Mines and Energy committee that government has taken over SMM Holdings and yet he does not want to be responsible for the workers’ welfare,” said Mare.
“The minister is behaving like a street person who is in a Cabinet that is not concerned about the welfare of 60 000 people in the mining towns.” Mare said
Chinamasa’s behaviour showed that the minister had lied under oath when he appeared before the Mines and Energy committee chaired by Guruve South MP Edward Chindori-Chininga. Chiminya added:
“If he claims government owns the mines, he should ensure the laws of this country are complied with and pay the workers at Mashava and Zvishavane.”
When Chinamasa appeared before the Mines and Energy committee last week, he alleged Mawere did not care about the asbestos mines and that was why he had fraudulently acquired the mining firm by paying $43 million using the mines’ resources.
However, Mawere has since dismissed Chinamasa’s claims as spurious and said if he was not the rightful owner of SMM Holdings, then Turner & Newell Plc, which sold the mines to Mawere, should have raised the issue and not the minister.