SMM workers fight evictions to give way for university

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By Tonderai Saharo

SOME 78 employees at the now defunct Shabane Mashava Mines (SMM) are facing eviction from the company houses they have been occupying for past 20 years after their employer recently sold the properties to Great Zimbabwe University.

The employees however are now fighting the evictions and have since approached the courts for redress.

They are being represented by Collins Maboke of Ruvengo, Maboke and Partners, in their bid to stay put.

In their founding affidavit filed at the Masvingo Civil Court the 78 employees said they are still employees of the SMM Holdings Company and the house they are occupying were given to them as part of employment benefits.

They said the company tried to move them to other properties within the mine area but these were however condemned by the Ministry of health as inhabitable

“The houses which we are occupying were given to us as employment benefits and these benefits are vested, they cannot be unilaterally terminated without our consent.

“The company failed dismally to show a list of houses which are suitable for human habitabitation which it offered us to occupy at King Mine. They were condemned and are totally different from the houses which we were occupying.

“The houses are in a dilapidated state and a human being cannot stay under such conditions,” read part of the court documents

However the company through SMM general manager in charge of properties Patrick Muguti insisted that the employees should be evicted from the houses for the sale agreement with Great Zimbabwe University to remain valid.

He said he now fears Great Zimbabwe University will soon start demanding rentals from the company if the workers refuse to vacate

“The workers are not being rendered homeless but will be relocated to other houses belonging to the company

“For the sale between SMM and GZU to be valid, SMM must deliver the property sold as long as this eviction matter remains outstanding due to these frivolous appeals with no merits the company runs the risk of the sale being rescinded,” Muguti said.

“As long as the houses remain undelivered to the GZU the applicant will be charged rentals.The company will therefore suffer irreparable harm as long as the issue remains unresolved.

Judgment of the case is expected to be handed over on 18 October.