HUNDREDS of former Ziscosteel employees yesterday met MDC-T president, Morgan Tsvangirai during an impromptu visit in what has become the ghost mining town of Redcliff, where he came face to face with families now struggling to survive.
BY BLESSED MHLANGA
The ex-workers, who are preparing for a four-day demonstration against Ziscosteel management, took turns to narrate the hardships they are facing after being laid off. The steelmaker is yet to settle their terminal benefits.
Clever Muchenjere, who served Ziscosteel for nearly 40 years, told Tsvangirai that his family was struggling to get a decent meal, while he was on the verge of being thrown out of his rented home by the local authority.
“We are happy that you have come here, our life here is deplorable, we were just thrown out of work and with nothing. Our pensions are not being paid; this is something we did not even see under Ian Smith (Rhodesia’s last Prime Minister). At that time, Smith would pay pensions, but this government of ours has really shaken us,” he said.
During the informal meeting, where Tsvangirai mingled with mostly gold panners, former miners and touts, heartbreaking stories of poverty, failure to pay fees and dashed hopes were shared.
Tsvangirai said his government would immediately re-open Ziscosteel and ensure that the mining town regains its lustre.
“We came here during the inclusive government with President Robert Mugabe to open New-Zimsteel and the investors from Essar Africa Holdings (an Indian firm) wanted to pour in close to a billion dollars to ensure that the plant is up and running, but these corrupt ministers and their officials stopped the deal because they don’t have the interests of the people at heart,” he said.
MDC-T youth chairman, Happymore Chidziva, then called on all people to register to vote when the biometric voter registration process opens in May.
“I know most of you will be in mining tunnels trying to eke a living, but if you do not take time out of that routine and ensure that you are a registered voter, then the change you seek will not happen,” he said.