Zimbabwe: Workers engage in violent protests as ZESA plunges Redwing Mine into total darkness over $3million debt
PENHALONGA – One of Zimbabwe’s oldest gold mines – Redwing Mine – is in big trouble, following the decision by the Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority to cut off the company’s electricity supply over a staggering RTGS$3million debt.
The power cut has seen the company’s workers and their families burn security shelters at the mine, in violent protest over outstanding salaries dating back one-and-a-half years.
About 500 workers, who are occupying the company houses in Old West location in Penhalonga – a mining village in the eastern province of Manicaland, are living in darkness after the power utility cut supplies Wednesday last week.
Management at the company refused to talk to this publication, but a member of the workers’ committee, Anthony Chivanda, confirmed the power cut.
“It’s true that electricity has been cut here. We are now living in darkness because the company has failed to pay the debt owed to Zesa,” he said.
A letter of demand gleaned by this publication showed that ZESA was being owed RTGS$3m. Redwing Mine is owned and operated by King’s Daughter Mining Company Limited (Metallon Corporation).
Redwing Mine was closed in 2005, but resumed operations a decade later, following dewatering. Redwing Mine is located in Manicaland province in the east of Zimbabwe, about 20 kilometres northeast of Mutare.
Following the electricity cut, the workers teamed up at the premises and scaled the main gate to the entrance and burnt the security shelters, as they demanded salaries they claimed should be back-dated to 18 months.
“And we have decided to protest against the outstanding salaries because we do not have any income. We have been joined by our wives and other family members who are in solidarity,” said Chivanda, adding the company had begun to ration water to the workers, raising fears of a possible water-borne disease outbreak.
“The management is saying that since 2018 they have been making losses. They are blocking us from speaking to the company directors,” Chivanda said.
The Member of Parliament for the area Regai Tsunga (MDC Alliance) said the mine management was in breach of contracts signed with the workers.
“What the company is doing is a clear breach of contracts. This requires urgent redress and the workers are bitter because they have families to take care of and what they are doing is inhumane,” said Tsunga recently.
“The standard provision of social amenities and utilities, including water and electricity has always been a responsibility of the employer in mining compounds. I have also engaged the company management. My understanding is that they are not performing well and, therefore, they were unable to pay workers. That is what they told me, but I believe they have been insensitive for not paying workers for 15 months,” added the legislator.