Bleak festive period for SMM workers

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Shabanie Mashaba Mines (SMM) workers face a bleak festive period as the Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation (ZMDC) has reportedly not paid them their salaries for the last three years.

Zvishavane and Mashaba MPs from across the political divide yesterday called on the ZMDC to speed up paying the SMM workers their backdated salaries to boost their morale during the festive season.

MDC-T MP (Masvingo West) Tachiona Mharadza and Zanu PF Zvishavane-Runde MP Lawrence Mavima yesterday told NewsDay since ZMDC had taken over SMM Holdings they should not delay paying the affected workers their outstanding salaries backdated to 2008.

The workers at the comatose asbestos mining company have not been paid for almost three years after the government used the Reconstruction of State Indebted Companies Act to wrest the mine from business magnate Mutumwa Mawere.

The ZMDC recently took over SMM Holdings.

Mharadza said he was looking for donations from sympathisers to help the affected SMM workers with groceries for the festive season.

“We are drumming up support from benevolent people who might want to donate foodstuffs like sugar, cooking oil and other products during this festive season,” said Mharadza.

“These people have gone without pay for almost three years now and we want to involve as many MPs as possible so that they can chip in with help.”

But Mavima said giving groceries to the affected workers was not the solution.

“The government should push the ZMDC to make the payments in terms of the backpay owed to these people so that they can be able to buy their own groceries. What these people need are not Christmas groceries, but their amounts outstanding should be paid so that they make their own decisions on what to buy,” said Mavima.

He said he did not understand why workers were not paid to date because a verification audit for SMM employees had been successfully concluded and the ZMDC knew how many people to pay.

Contacted for comment, ZMDC chairperson Godwills Masimirembwa said the workers would certainly be paid, but could not give a specific date.

“They are definitely going to be paid. However, we are still working on the issue and it is difficult for me to give a timeframe because we are still trying to solve a few technical issues before we do the payments. We want to pay the outstanding amounts and at the same time resuscitate the mining operations so that in the future we are able to continue paying their monthly salaries.”