KWEKWE — The country’s sole ammonium nitrate (AN) fertiliser producer Sable Chemicals was last Thursday forced to shut down after Zesa pulled the plug on the struggling company in an effort to force it to settle its ballooning electricity bill.
By our Staff Reporter
The latest standoff between Zesa and Sable resulted in the fertiliser producing entity sending its 400 employees home with no salaries ahead of the festive season.
Workers who spoke to NewsDay on condition they were not named said Sable had adopted a no-work, no-pay policy over the past months, which means they could go for Christmas holiday without salaries.
“We now have no-work, no-payment policy at Sable and as you can see, no power, no work, no work, no pay. This is the situation here,” a worker said.
Sable’s chief executive officer Jack Murehwa confirmed that the company had been forced to shut down over the debt now estimated at above $30 million.
He, however, said negotiations were ongoing to have the plant back on line.
“Discussions are always taking place among Sable’s stakeholders.
“Sometimes in the process, the power utility feels it has to apply more pressure to make its point and the most effective way to make the point is to take Sable off the grid,” Murehwa said.
“At this crucial moment of the agricultural season, it was indeed regrettable as this has had a serious negative impact on the production of AN.
“Suffice to say that Sable operates on a tariff supported by the government which carries a portion of the bill.
“Figures change all the time and I would rather we stick to the principles rather than flashing figures which in the main end up being misquoted and discussed out of context.”
Murehwa declined to discuss the plight of workers, saying he would rather tackle the issue at a platform where workers and management were represented.
“We are always in communication with our workers and it will be irresponsible for me to try and manage our relationship with Sable workers through the media.
“Our focus is, as much as is possible, to ensure that Sable operations continue and in the process provide the necessary employment.
“Any issues that arise in the process are put on the table for discussion between workers and management.”
Sable Chemicals has endured the wrath of Zesa who have been pulling the plug at will over a $30 million debt, which has been accumulating since 2009.