Hwange women remain camped at company's offices

HWANGE - Spouses of Hwange Colliery Company Limited (HCCL) workers are still camped at the entrance of the firm’s management office where they have since pitched a tent.

The spouses have been camped at the company’s premises since January 29 demanding their husbands’ outstanding salaries.

Government has since sent a number of officials to try and negotiate with the demonstrating spouses without any success.

The issue came to Parliament on Wednesday with Hwange Central legislator Brian Tshuma telling the august house that the spouses had since rejected government’s offer and will stay put at the company’s premises.

“The true position is that there are ministers who have gone to Hwange and what they have said has been rejected by those women and the demonstration is continuing.

“They have pitched up a tent and it is still there right now. If you want I can ask someone to send a picture or even video through Whatsapp. We can have it here.”

Mines minister Winston Chitando said if the demonstrations are still on-going it is against the spirit in which the discussions and conclusions took place between representatives of the women and the minister of Labour.

“In terms of those discussions, there were certain undertakings on both parties,” said the minister.

“The first undertaking from the women was that they would stop demonstrating and the undertaking on the part of government was to look into their issues which is being done, and we are going to revert to them.

“Should they have continued demonstrating, then it is certainly an act of bad faith in terms of the agreements made.”

Chairperson of the parliamentary committee on Mines and Energy Temba Mliswa weighed in saying the issue needs the attention of President Emmerson Mnangagwa.

“The Committee on Mines and Energy during its tour did meet these women and they gave us a petition which was very reasonable.

“There was an undertaking that this issue would be brought up with His Excellency and the question here should be and I remember saying that the shoes of the ministers are too small for this.

“It needs His Excellency. The point is that we end up as legislators being told that we lie. I think people must have trust in us when we say we are going to represent them,” said Mliswa.

HCCL, in which government is the biggest shareholder with 37 percent shares, is the nation’s second largest coal producer and supplies coke to national electricity company Zesa.

HCCL mines coal in the northwest of Zimbabwe on some of the southern African country’s richest coal deposits.

The coal miner owes employees almost four years’ salaries.

HCCL creditors’ scheme of arrangement chairperson Andy Lawson has said there is a scheme of arrangement where creditors including workers have agreed to a structured payment plan to stop its equipment being auctioned off for failing to honour obligations and to also allow the colliery company to borrow money from banks for working capital.

HCCL claims it has so far paid workers according to that agreement.

HCCL management is accused of acting arrogantly by refusing to meet the striking spouses and also approaching the courts to try to force the police to disperse them.

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