By Clayton Shereni, Masvingo Correspondent
FORMER Shabanie Mashaba Mines Holdings SMM workers who thought they had found relief in government intervention when it stopped their evictions in 2018, are now crying foul after their employer has resumed the evictions in full force.
The ex-workers who are demanding their outstanding salaries have been refusing to leave company houses since 2012 but, the company now claims that outstanding wages were used as rentals for their stay since they were no longer company employees.
Some ex-employees were served with eviction notices which also shown that they are the ones who now owe SMM Holdings.
One of the former workers who spoke on condition of anonymity in fear of victimisation said he was disappointed by lack of intervention from government, despite having been assured in 2018 that there were no more evictions which will take place.
“Everyone thought the struggle was over since Minister Chitando told us at a rally that as former workers we now own the houses since the company wasn’t capable of settling its debt with us. What amazes us is that soon after elections evictions started and no one seems bothered to reprimand the company from carrying out the evictions and we feel like we were used for,” the worker said.
Speaking during the Zanu PF rally at Maglas stadium in 2018, Chitando promised former employees that no more evictions would take place in Mashava and Zvishavane, but this has not been enforced.
Chitando was not available to comment on the developments since he didn’t answer calls made to his mobile phone and texts sent to him until the time of publishing.
Zimbabwe Diamond and Allied Minerals Workers Union Secretary General, Justice Chinhema said the government was letting them down in their pursuit for justice.
“Our challenge is that the government itself. Initially government told company management not to evict us, demanding to know how the ex-workers became tenants yet they were staying in the houses waiting for their outstanding salaries,” Chinhema said.
“Government is the one that told former workers to stay in the houses and made it clear that no one owed the company, so we are waiting to be given what we are owed but nothing concrete is being done yet workers are being evicted,” Chinhema said.
The union has been calling for the removal of company administrator Afarus Gwaradzimba whom they accuse of being illegitimate.
Gwaradzimba’s return to the helm of SMM Holdings torched a storm and his management has fallen out of favor with ex-workers for evicting them, despite having served the company for many years and being owed millions of dollars.