HWANGE Colliery workers’ wives yesterday called on President Emmerson Mnangagwa to urgently solve their dire situation in the same manner the people of Zimbabwe marched in solidarity with him to remove former President Robert Mugabe.
BY VENERANDA LANGA
The women have been protesting since January, and during a media briefing in Harare, they told journalists that the President must immediately act on their situation, as it has become a humanitarian crisis.
Spokesperson of the protesters, Thobekile Shoko, said the situation was so bad that women in Hwange were now engaging in prostitution to support their families, with young girls ending up in early child marriages and being treated for sexually-transmitted infections.
“Our message to Mnangagwa is that we were part of the solidarity march and were together with him when his government was placed into power, and the President must be in solidarity with the Hwange women because we understand that Zimbabwe is a country that respects women,” she said.
“We now expect him to be part of our situation and to save the future of our children.”
Chairperson of the Hwange Colliery Women on Demonstration, Claris Ngoma, added: “Mnangagwa once said the voice of the people is the voice of God, and we now have women who have been speaking out for 95 days. Therefore, it has been God speaking for the 95 days in Hwange and now, we need to know what he is saying about this.”
The women said they had been surviving through piece jobs like doing housework for employees of other companies in Hwange such as Zesa Holdings.
According to the women, the visit by Labour minister Petronella Kagonye was fruitless as they were promised payments which never came.
“Women in Hwange are now engaging in prostitution to try and support their families. There are high rates of divorce and this affects our children. During demonstrations, women have been beaten up and injured, while nine women were arrested on March 9. It has been very painful,” Shoko said.
The Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions national organiser Michael Kandukutu said they had even taken the issue to the International Labour Organisation, and the effects were that it would dent investor confidence.
John Maketo, of the Zimbabwe Coalition of Debt and Development, called for the firing of the Hwange Colliery Company Limiter board, and immediate forensic audit of the colliery, and that government must uphold workers’ rights to petition and collective bargaining, and to pay the $10 000 lump sum initial payment as promised.