HWANGE Colliery Company Limited (HCCL) workers on Tuesday started receiving their dues in dribs and drabs as the miner paid a paltry $70 to settle the five-year salary arrears, a move that has irked their spouses.
By Nokuthaba Dlamini
The women from the coal-rich town, who are now on their 11th day of protest, are calling for the removal of managing director Thomas Makore and human resources manager Raymond Munangwa, whom they accuse of mismanaging resources using their political muscle and failure to pay workers since 2014.
In their petition to government, the women demanded that their husbands be paid all their dues by February 15.
“The salaries started coming through from yesterday, but it is a slap in the face and it’s disheartening. Imagine an elderly man that has gone for five years without salary getting $70. There are bank charges, taxes and other bills that are subtracted. No words can equal our feelings. As we speak, not everyone has received salaries, but the highest paid got $200,” Grace Mlilo said.
“The government has let us down too, Obert Mpofu (Home Affairs minister) had promised to come back on Tuesday with a response, but we never saw nor heard from him. Makore too is silent about the matter. Human rights are being violated and it means nothing to them.”
The women said their husbands were being threatened for allowing them to march and a driver has already been suspended for giving a lift to women going for the sit-in at the company premises.
“Our husbands are now working in fear especially those whose wives are known. A few days ago, a lorry driver who offered us a lift was immediately suspended pending expulsion.
“We have tried all we can; carried placards, blocked the gates, marched in every street and we are sleeping there every day, but nothing has moved their hearts. We will be marching to Victoria Falls in few days’ time so that we attract global attention,” another woman added.
The women have mounted a tent at the company’s gates and yesterday made dummy coffins and put flowers on top to denounce Makore and Munangwa and placed them at the gates.
There is still heavy police presence at the company premises and visitors are being denied entry for security reasons.
Efforts to get a comment from Makore were fruitless as his mobile number went to voice mail.