GOVERNMENT has pulled out of the salary wrangle involving Hwange Colliery Company Limited and workers’ spouses, who have been demonstrating at the company premises for the past 26 days demanding their husbands’ outstanding dues.
By Nokuthaba Dlamini
Home Affairs minister who told Southern Eye on Monday that the government chose to stay out of the dispute after the striking women roped in the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU).
Mpofu told Southern Eye that the women were not negotiating in good faith and had been misled by ZCTU, which is now guiding them when they are not registered members.
“Those people were not negotiating in good faith. I went there when President Emmerson Mnangagwa sent me to engage the workers and we had tentatively agreed that they should hold their sit-in until their issues are addressed. But just as I left, ZCTU came in and started giving them instructions, which government was not happy with and we said if they believe in ZCTU, yet they are not even members, let them deal with the issues,” he said.
“Government cannot work under duress. They seem to be more inclined to listening to ZCTU than their government so we cannot deal with the matter. Just before I reported to the President, they were already coming up with new positions and also threatening management on the instructions of ZCTU and also demanding that everyone should be given $5 000 before February 15.
Mpofu said when he went to negotiate with the women, ZCTU officials were in charge of the proceedings and he cautioned them.
ZCTU president, Peter Mutasa said the union is there to address social problems affecting its members.
“ZCTU has got an obligation to address social problems affecting people including people in Hwange, so we are very disappointed by the stance if that is the position of the government, but I do want to believe that. What I know is that Mpofu has got interests in the matter. He was the Minister of Mines and the board that was there he was involved in appointing that body so whatever is happening there he also has a hand in it, so I don’t think he is the right person to address that matter to start with.”
Mutasa said ignoring the plight of the Hwange women would be a serious indictment on President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s leadership.
“We have written to the government and we don’t want to take Mpofu’s decision as the voice of the government,” he said.
Mutasa said the families’ living conditions also need to be addressed. He said as many as 60 households share one toilet and bathroom and there is no running water, and government should ensure that people are living in dignity.
Armed police officers are guarding company premises amid fears of vandalism.