GWERU— Workers at the Midlands Conference Centre, where Zanu PF is due to hold its annual conference in December, downed tools last Thursday in protest over poor working conditions, raising fears that work on the facility might not be completed on time.
The over 100 workers alleged they were protesting against inhuman treatment that they suffered at the hands of Chinese contractors who were given the contract to build the conference facility out of an abandoned winery.
“We are physically beaten up by these people. The abuse has just gone out of hand and the time has come for us to refuse any further abuse,” said a worker who refused to be named.
According to Zanu PF sources, Midlands governor and party provincial chairman Jason Machaya had to be called in to persuade the works to go back to work.
Machaya is reported to have addressed the workers on Friday, pleading with them to return to work while he engaged the Chinese over the alleged abuses.
“The party chairman had to be called in to try and persuade the workers to go back to work while the issue of abuse was being sorted out. We need that facility completed in time for the conference,” said a party source.
Machaya was unreachable for comment yesterday and attempts to get comment from the Midlands Development Association, a trust which will own the facility, were in vain as chairman Larry Mavhima was reported to be in China to source chairs for the facility.
However, before his departure, Mavhima had told NewsDay last week that he was optimistic the centre would be completed before the conference starts in December.
“The facility will be ready for use,” Mavhima said. “There is no doubt that construction will be complete days before the conference starts.”
However a source told NewsDay last night that some of the workers had resumed work yesterday although the majority remained on strike.