HWANGE Colliery Company has approached the High Court seeking to bar wives of its employees from demonstrating over unpaid salaries for their husbands.
BY CHARLES LAITON
The coal mining company is seeking an order to compel the police to assist in evicting the demonstrating women and children.
More than 300 women and children of the company’s employees last week besieged the main administration offices demanding that the company pay their husbands and fathers salaries which were now several months overdue.
Hwange’s company secretary, Allen Masiya, said in his founding affidavit that the company had since January 30 been engaging the police for assistance in having the protesters removed.
“The second respondent has declined to assist the applicant, citing that the demonstrators have a right to protest and petition in terms of Section 59 of the Constitution,” Masiya said.
“Applicant’s efforts to plead with the second respondent to assist have therefore been fruitless.” Faced with the situation, the coal mining firm approached the police seeking assistance in dispersing the protesters, but the law enforcement agents are said to have declined the request and indicated that the protesters had a constitutional right to do so.
Hwange cited Acting Commissioner-General of Police Godwin Matanga and Hwange Police Station Officer in Charge, Chief Inspector James Ngoma, as respondents.
“The applicant further seeks an order compelling or mandating the first and second respondents (Matanga and Ngoma) to remove the illegal demonstrators from the applicant’s premises,” Masiya said in his founding affidavit.
According to Masiya, on January 29 this year, a group of between 200 and 300 demonstrators comprising mostly women waving placards, stormed the company’s main offices claiming to be wives and children of the company’s employees.
“The group neither had any police clearance nor any court order for carrying out of their protest. Despite efforts of the applicant’s security personnel to deny the demonstrators access into its premises, the group forcefully entered the premises and surrounded the applicant’s administration building,” he said.
“Thereat, they began disrupting the day-to-day operations of the applicant by singing, dancing and making threats against the applicant’s managing director. To date and as I depose to this affidavit, the protesters are still stationed at the administration building, with others scattered around applicant’s premises.”
Masiya further said the firm’s operations at the administration building had been brought to a standstill as a result of the presence of the protesters.
“None of the applicant’s scheduled meetings and daily activities can go ahead due to the presence of the protesters. Visitors are intimidated to access the applicant’s premises and employees are unable to do business as usual due to the high noise levels,” he said.
“Applicant is already facing financial challenges, a situation that is well known and which has resulted in applicant entering into a scheme of arrangement with its creditors.
“The disruption of its business and loss of revenue due to the protests in question is therefore greatly prejudicial to the applicant. It is the last thing that applicant needs right now.”
Masiya also said the demonstrators had no right to protest at the company’s private premises, as they were not employed by the firm and above all did not have police clearance.
The matter is yet to be set down for hearing.