HWANGE Colliery Company protesters have been summoned to appear in court on Monday facing criminal trespass charges.
BY NOKUTHABA DLAMINI/ KUDZAI MUCHENJEKWA
The spouses and widows of HCCL workers are protesting over five-year salaries owed to their husbands by the company amounting up to $80 000.
Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Lights lawyers Thulani Nkala and Nosimilo Chanaiwa are representing them.
The allegations against them are that on January 29 at Hwange Colliery gate, Ammary Saulo, Thobekile Shoko, Sibonokuhle Ndlovu, Tendai Ncube, Clarice Ngoma, Chipo Tavingei and other protesters pitched a tent and set up camp without the authority’s consent.
This came as the Centre for Natural Resource Governance (CNRG) yesterday slammed Labour and Social Welfare minister Petronella Kagonye for failing to empathise with the protesting women.
Kagonye, who was in Hwange last Wednesday for negotiations, rebuked the women for demonstrating when they were not HCCL employees. She said the government would ensure the company paid full salaries going forward and ordered the women to stop their protests and move out of HCCL premises where they have been camped since January.
CNRG in a statement said the women had legitimate reasons for demonstrating.
“Among those demonstrators are former employees of HCCL, who solely depend on their benefits for survival. To add salt to injury, the company had the audacity to serve some of them with eviction notices even as it has not paid them their dues,” CNRG said.
CNRG said pensioners’ wives and widows were the most affected.
“Among the women are also those that were widowed by the June 6, 1972 Kamandama disaster where 427 Hwange Colliery miners died after being buried in an underground mine … the company has not been paying the widows and children that lost their fathers in the disaster.
“Considering these circumstances, CNRG asserts that it is highly unfair for Kagonye to take HCCL management’s side and treat the women like they are some pestilence that needs to be gotten rid of when they have real concerns that need to be addressed,” the statement read.
“CNRG is, therefore, fully in support of Hwange women’s decision to remain camped at the company premises until their concerns are fully addressed and the money that the company owes them starts reflecting in their bank accounts.”
The protesting women’s representatives said Kagonye does not understand their situation and was using political muscle to utter offensive words to suffering people.