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Wives of Colliery workers bare souls to Mpofu, confess to prostitution due to hunger

04/02/2018 00:00:00
by Matebeleland North Correspondent
 
Sent by president ... Home Afairs Minister, Obert Mpofu
 
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HWANGE: Spouses of Colliery Company employees have said they are now resorting to prostitution to supplement for their families’ upkeep as their husbands have gone for about five years without getting their salaries.

Representatives of the wives on Friday told Home Affairs Minister Obert Mpofu who laboured to address the huge crowd that kept booing him that their husbands were failing to provide for their families.

They said they are also using pieces of cloths and newspapers as sanitary pads because their husbands have no money.

“What the company is doing is leading us into immorality. We are now into prostitution because we want to raise money for our children and the husbands who are not getting paid,” said one woman.

A document detailing grievances, which the women handed to Minister Mpofu and NewZimbabwe.com is in possession of, states how women’s dignity has been eroded.

“As women we can no longer afford to buy sanitary pads and now use Chitenges and newspapers which cause cervical cancer. Toilets have no water and all women have to share. Surely as HCCL spouses we have lost dignity and value as most well paid man from other companies take advantage of our situation as they propose to us.

Some say ndotokupa yeshuga kunemurume wako asina chanokuitira. The current situation is promoting adultery in marriages hence a high increase in sexually transmitted diseases,” read part of the document.

Sources said a number of married women were now frequenting the Hwange Truck Stop where they allegedly solicit for sex from long distance truck drivers.

Workers at the company have been without salaries since 2013 and efforts to engage with management have been met with stiff resistance, with those brave enough to raise the issue being victimized.

The workers’ spouses last week took it upon themselves to demonstrate against the company management and have been camped at the company premises to date.

On Friday, Minister Mpofu ordered them to leave the place but they vowed to stay put until their demands were met.

A tent has been pitched at the management offices’ gate as the determined women seek to protect themselves from the rains.

They alleged that their husbands were being victimised for calling for their rights and called for dismissal of the managing director Thomas Makore, his human resources manager Munangwa, among other managers.



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The women said even the girl child is now at risk as they are forced into sexual activities and early marriages.

On Friday, the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) wrote to President Emmerson Mnangagwa asking him to urgently intervene in the on-going salary impasse.

On the same day President Mnangagwa sent Dr Mpofu to address the protestors on his behalf.

“President sent me to beg you to give him time to address this issue.

This government is only two months old and the President is not taking it lightly,’ said Minister Mpofu amid jeers from the crowd.

Minister Mpofu also attempted to discredit ZCTU president Peter Mutasa by telling him that his engagement with the protestors was illegal because they were not the trade union body’s members.

Mutasa retorted: “This is called picketing. Workers can call for supporters to demonstrate on their behalf and that’s allowed in the Labour Act.”

Minister Mpofu promised to report to President Mnangagwa and bring a response back to the protestors this week.

The majority of HCCL workers have reportedly defaulted on contractual payments for residential stands, insurances and other obligations due to none payment of their salaries.

Management last year paid each of the workers 7 percent of their outstanding salaries and promised to clear the remainder after agreeing on a scheme of arrangement.

Things reached boiling point when management recently told the workers that they will only get their salaries and 2.6 percent in July, a development which sparked the protests.

This is not the first time the spouses of Hwange Colliery employees have demonstrated against the company. In 2013, about 100 women walked 20km to the General Manager’s offices to demand their husbands’ salaries and were brutally assaulted by police at the instigation of the company, now infamous for its bad industrial relations.


 
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