800 workers strike at Gaths Mine

MASHAVA - Eight hundred workers at Shabanie Mashava Mines’ Gaths Asbestos Mine on Monday downed tools demanding six months’ outstanding salaries.

The workers took to the streets of Mashava after reports that management embezzled funds meant to pay their outstanding dues.

Workers claimed government released $500 000 for their half salaries and allowances in December but the money did not reach them.

“We have been getting allowances and half salaries since the mines were taken from the former owner, but over the last six months we didn’t get anything,” said a worker who declined to be named.

“We were told that government released $500 000 to pay our outstanding money but the money mysteriously disappeared at management level. The managers embezzled our money and we demand it.”

Insiders say the $500 000 was supposed to be shared between Shabanie, Gaths and Temeria mines for workers’ allowances.

But the mines were given only a combined $200 000 which was not enough to pay workers at the three mines, leading to the latest strike.

Angry workers took to the streets on Monday and invaded the manager’s office at Gaths Mine demanding their dues.

The drum-beating and placard-waving workers were baying for the blood of the manager but were later dispersed by the police who told them to go home.

The strike entered its third day yesterday.

Workers were instructed to stay calm as Zanu PF government officials and members of the President’s Office were locked up in meetings with workers’ representatives.

Howard Chivasa, Gaths Mine workers’ committee chairperson, told the Daily News: “We are in a strike but right now I can not give you full details because I am in a lengthy meeting with management, government officials, party members and those from the President’s office. You have to call me in the evening.”

Efforts to get a comment from Zachariah Chipepa, the acting manager, were fruitless while staff at his office said he was locked in a series of meetings.

The crumbling of the SMM empire, previously owned by Mutumwa Mawere, saw over 6 000 workers losing their jobs directly and indirectly, turning Mashava into a ghost town.

Most of the workers who lost their jobs have resorted to gold panning while elderly females and young girls have resorted to prostitution.

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