HARARE City Council has called on the Grain Marketing Board (GMB) management to urgently resolve the standoff with its ex-workers, who have been camped at its head office for more than two weeks to avert a health crisis as the area has no water or ablution facilities.
By Phyllis Mbanje
The workers are part of the more than 1 600 laid off under last year’s infamous July 17 Supreme Court ruling, but have been picketing the parastatal’s head office along Samora Machel Avenue demanding their outstanding salaries.
However, the company has locked them out, denying them access to water and toilet facilities.
“This is a public health concern, which will affect many people should there be an outbreak of a disease like typhoid,” Harare City Council spokesperson, Michael Chideme said.
So far, 24 cases of typhoid have been confirmed in Harare. Once they reach 30 and above, it will be declared an outbreak.
However, the former GMB employees have vowed to stay on until their demands have been met.
“We are not going anywhere until we have been paid our dues,” Stephen Machaya, the GMB workers’ union chairperson, said.
When contacted for comment, GMB spokesperson, Muriel Zemura requested questions be sent via email, but had not responded by the time of going to print.
The workers, including women with babies, have had to rely on well-wishers, who occasionally give them water and access to toilet facilities.
“They do not want us inside and so we have had to source for the services from nearby companies,” Tony Mwanza, a workers’ union committee member, said.
Shortage of clean, running water fuels the spread of typhoid, which is a life-threatening illness caused by the bacterium salmonella typhi, which only lives in humans.
Persons with typhoid fever carry the bacteria in their bloodstream and intestinal tract.