LEGISLATORS yesterday took Mines minister Winstone Chitando to task over the plight of Hwange Colliery workers saying since he had failed to resolve the impasse, he should refer the matter to President Emmerson Mnangagwa.
BY VENERANDA LANGA
Hwange Colliery workers’ wives have been camped at the company premises for nearly two months demonstrating over their husbands’ unpaid wages.
Hwange East MP Wesley Sansole (MDC-T) asked Chitando to explain the interventions his ministry will take to end the strike.
“There were indeed issues of demonstrations by thousands of employees at Hwange Colliery, but following interventions by Labour minister Petronella Kagonye those issues are no longer there,” Chitando said.
But, Hwange Central MP Brian Tshuma (MDC-T) said the minister was giving false information to Parliament.
“What Kagonye said when she met the demonstrators was rejected and right now demonstrations are ongoing. I can even ask someone in Hwange to right now send a WhatsApp video or picture of demonstrators,” he said.
Chitando then said if the demonstrations were ongoing it was against the spirit in which the workers’ unions and Kagonye agreed on the issue.
Chairperson of the Mines and Energy Committee Temba Mliswa said when his committee toured Hwange it was clear that the issue was now too big for the minister and needed Mnangagwa’s intervention.
Binga North MP Prince Dubeko Sibanda (MDC-T) then asked Chitando to explain why the government had failed to resuscitate Hwange Colliery and workers had gone unpaid for five years.
Chitando said Hwange Colliery was not a government entity, adding that it is a company quoted on the London Stock Exchange.
“Government is the single largest shareholder with 37% shares in Hwange Colliery. Had it not been for the interventions by government Hwange Colliery will be down and under by now. Employees have gone through a lot with 33 months unpaid salaries. However, there is now a turnaround strategy for a recovery scheme which will see underground mining operations commencing in May, where Hwange is going to have a positive cash flow and servicing its debts,” he said.
But, Tshuma dismissed the minister’s statements saying they were mere rhetoric.
“I follow the eloquence of the minister and the good English, but he is former board chairman of Hwange Colliery and he, in fact, presided over the mess, and before he crossed over to the Executive the fair thing is that the minister should have recused himself from Hwange Colliery issues in terms of corporate governance rules,” Tshuma said.