Hwange workers threaten strike

HWANGE Colliery workers have given notice to go on an indefinite strike action to, among many other things, protest the decision by Mines minister Winston Chitando to put the company under reconstruction.

BY VENERANDA LANGA

The Temba Mliswa-led Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Mines has also been invited by the workers to urgently visit the mine which is bedevilled by a myriad of problems that include alleged corruption, and serious financial mismanagement, as well as theft of coal by transporters.

The letter giving 14 days’ notice for industrial action by the Hwange workers’ committee to the Mines Portfolio Committee said placing the company under the Reconstruction Act was uncalled for.

“Hwange was placed under the Reconstruction Act in a manner that violates the employees labour rights guaranteed under section 65 of the Constitution, which is the supreme law of the land and any law purporting to override the Constitution is a nullity,” the letter read.

“After scrutinising the Act, we realised that uncalled-for reliance on the Reconstruction Act erodes the employees’ rights as enshrined in the Constitution, particularly the labour rights under section 65, which guarantees rights to industrial action, and employees have resolved to engage in a strike.”

The Hwange workers said their safety was no longer guaranteed under the Reconstruction Act.

“Workers are being reduced to slaves in an independent Zimbabwe, and as employees and shareholders, we were not consulted about putting the company under reconstruction. We do not want to face the same fate as that of Shabanie Mashaba Mines (SMM),” they said.

The workers were also concerned that reconstruction has led the company to being suspended from the Zimbabwe, Johannesburg and London stock exchanges.

They said the development was also affecting property rights guaranteed by section 71 of the Constitution because shares held by shareholders cannot be traded during the reconstruction phase.

Reynolds Tendai Muza of Ralph Bomment Greenacre and Reynolds, who is doing a forensic audit on Hwange, also told the committee that putting the coal mine under reconstruction was detrimental to its revival and image.

“I have no problems with the administrator Bekithemba Moyo, it is a professional appointment and he has vast experience. But putting the company under reconstruction is highly unlikely to attract fresh capital because you cannot put your money where you have no say,” Moyo said.

“Reconstruction chases away investors, and an example is the SMM issue. It has been under reconstruction for more than 14 years and no single investor has come there.”

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