Published On: Mon, Jan 9th, 2017

Government fails to resuscitate Shabani and Mashava mines

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By Owen Chikari

MASHAVA– The government through the Zimbabwe Mining  and Development Corporation ZMDC has failed  to resuscitate production at the troubled Shabani and Mashava  Mines despite taking over  operations at the asbestos mines three years ago.

It has also emerged that ZMDC has also failed to honour its promise of paying workers their outstanding salaries when it took over the mines from Arafas Gwaradzimba who was once appointed administrator of the mines by  the government.

Workers at the two mines said no production was taking place  andnearly all workers were still battling to be paid their outstanding
salaries by their new employer the ZMDC.

Naison Mlambo a  spokesman for the workers said  that things at the two mines have never changed after the ZMDC took over.

He said some workers were still on unpaid leave while those at work were being paid paltry salaries of less than USD 100 a month.

He said the money is not enough to even meet the basic needs of a small family of just three people.

“Our lives are not enjoyable because the money which we are being given is tool little for a living”, said Mlambo.

“We are failing to buy food and other necessities “, he added. “School children are the worst affected because most of them have stopped
going to school because we can not afford to pay school fees for them,” he said.

Mines and mining development minister Walter Chidhakwa there is more that needs to be done before  production resumes at the two mines.

At least USD 20 million is need to recapitalize the two mines believed to be sitting on asbestos deposits worth USD$ 1 billion

“We are working on pumping water from the shafts  due to flooding, said Chidhakwa.

“We need a lot of money  for us to start production at the two mines”, he added.

However  Chidhakwa denied allegations that the ZMDC has failed to pay the workers their outstanding salaries.

“We have tried  to clear debts and we have managed to ensure that at
least workers get some money as salaries”, he said.

However investigations by ZimbabweNewsday have revealed that the two mines have a total debt of  more than USD 30 millions dollars.

Among the debtors owed money by the two asbestos mines is the Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority ZESA which is owed about USD 5 million dollars.

Sources said that the two mines  have resorted to selling some of their properties like buildings and other assets  in order to pay
debts.

The two mines were forcibly taken  over by government from self exiled Zimbabwean businessman Mutumwa Mawere after he was specified by the state.

However Mawere has accused Chidhakwa of lying about what is taking place at the two asbestos mines.

He dismissed Chidhakwa’s comments arguing that the minister has been giving conflicting statements regarding developments at the closed mines

Mawere also said that while it was true that workers were getting a raw deal following the closure of the mines several people including
suppliers, debtors were also affected.

Said Mawere “It cannot be disputed that when there is no rule of law, economic causalities cannot be avoided including workers.