SEVERAL families of workers employed by the National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ) in Harare are living out in the cold after the State-owned rail company evicted them from Club Hideout in Lochnivar where they have been staying for years.
The workers and their families last night spent their second night in the cold during this winter season following their eviction on Thursday. At least four families are said to have been affected.
They have been living under squalid conditions at the neglected Club Hideout after their eviction from their previous residences as the NRZ struggled to pay their salaries for years.
When NewsDay arrived at Club Hideout yesterday, some of the evicted workers were sitting outside the bar with their belongings including beds, wardrobes, stoves and other household properties.
The workers said they were being evicted by their employer to pave way for a businessman who wanted to run a business at the place.
Club Hideout used to be a popular club in the 1980’s and 90’s and was the home to Chimurenga music guru, Thomas Mapfumo.
Contacted for comment, NRZ public relations manager Fanuel Masikati confirmed that workers who had sought refuge at Club Hideout were evicted to make way for a commercial venture.
“The place is being cleared for commercial use. They need to revive it, but they are making all efforts to relocate the NRZ employees who were staying there to another place,” Masikati said.
He said it was not the NRZ itself responsible for evicting the workers, but the new tenant.
Nyashinda Peya (46) a manual worker B at NRZ said they had been evicted by a person who said he now wanted to run his businesses at the place.
“It seems as if they handed over the properly to the pension fund which then looked for someone to come and start a business here,” Peya said.
“At the beginning of April, we were approached by management who told us that they would help us find accommodation. We continued to reside here until the beginning of this June when the person who is said to have won the tender approached us and told us that he wanted to start his business there.”
Peya said the person who won the tender came on Wednesday telling them that he wanted them to vacate the premises so as to start his business.
“On Thursday at 4am, they came and evicted us such that at 4:30am we were already outside with our belongings,” he said.
“We spent the day and night outside in the open. We slept in the open with our children. It was very cold, the children could not even sleep because of the weather. It actually drizzled at night while we were sleeping.”
The workers said management had allocated them houses in the Rugare suburb, but all the houses were still occupied by “former” NRZ employees who did not want to leave.
“We talked with our management who said they will help us with accommodation, but now they tell us to go and stay at the NRZ houses in which those same houses they are referring us to are still occupied,” a track worker Chipo Taderera said. “We really do not know what to do next with our children. If we think of going to rent, we can’t afford it at all.”