At a affair on February 11, two weeks into a beef by hundreds of women in the mining association alfresco the company’s offices, still continuing in backward March, the Hwange Colliery Aggregation Ltd. (HCCL) accepted that the aggregation owed its workers a absolute of $70 million. HCCL administration said they did not accept the money to pay, although abounding workers had not been paid abounding accomplishment for about bristles years.
HCCL has been one of the best belled cases of “wage theft,” accepted throughout both clandestine and state-owned companies in Zimbabwe in contempo years, as accurate in a abode in 2016 (http://tinyurl.com/y7ewon3g), based on all-encompassing assay by the Labour and Bread-and-butter Development Assay Institute of Zimbabwe (LEDRIZ). Workers accept gone afterwards pay or been absolved afterwards agreed severance benefits, while managers accept connected to adore aerial salaries and black accounting obscures the assets paid to investors. In the case of HCCL, the aggregation is 43% endemic by government and 26% by British agent Nicholas van Hoogstraten. Van Hoogstraten has been a citizen in Zimbabwe and a abutting accessory of afresh ousted Admiral Robert Mugabe, while actuality accused of accepting murdered a business battling in England.
This case is additionally aberrant in that the HCCL coal-mining operation represents a crumbling industry with aged technology, in which advance in accession would added endanger the altitude as able-bodied as actuality unprofitable. Yet it is the workers and their families who are abode the costs.
It is additionally notable that the protests, led principally by women in the mining community, began as aboriginal as 2013, and accept accomplished some bound successes. They accept acquired abutment and advancing assurance by barter unions and civilian association organizations in Zimbabwe as able-bodied as internationally. These accept included the Zimbabwe Congress of Barter Unions (ZCTU), the Centre for Natural Resource Governance (CNRG), Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR), and Women and Law in Southern Africa (WLSA). And, in contempo weeks, political burden at the civic akin to booty activity has additionally been rising.
Since the latest protests began at the end of January, the aggregation is appear to accept has paid 5.2% of outstanding aback wages, on top of 7% paid in aboriginal 2017. But neither the aggregation nor the government has promised to do added than assay the achievability of added payments, falling far abbreviate of demands by workers and protesters.
This AfricaFocus Bulletin contains a mid-March accomplishments abode on the Hwange beef from the Centre for Natural Resource Governance, followed by a abbreviate account of added assets of interest.
For updates on the protests, use the afterward custom Google chase for accessories actualization afterwards January 28, 2018: http://tinyurl.com/yb5eoaqt
For antecedent AfricaFocus Bulletins on Zimbabwe, appointment http://www.africafocus.org/country/zimbabwe.php
Fighting for the contributed activity of Hwange Women
Centre for Natural Resource Governance Harare, Zimbabwe
[Report broadcast by email and accessible at https://groups.google.com/forum/#!topic/afritax/UN3D6PQRQHI
Additional advice accessible at the website of CNRG http://www.cnrgzim.org]
1. Introduction and Background
For bristles years now, the Hwange Colliery Aggregation Bound (HCCL), Zimbabwe’s bigger atramentous mining aggregation that is partly endemic by the government, has bootless to pay its workers their dues, as able-bodied as the allowances advantaged to widows of its workers. Although there is affirmation that the aggregation has not chock-full affairs its produce, it has for the accomplished few years been declaring losses. The company’s workers accept the loss-making abode is a tactic by the administration to absolve their not actuality paid salaries.
Coal assembly in Hwange (called Wankie in the colonial period) dates aback to the backward 19th century, the oldest of Zimbabwe’s atramentous assembly operations. Underground and credible mines augment a 920MW-capacity coalfired ability bulb which provides electricity to the civic grid. It was additionally the armpit of one of the best baleful atramentous abundance disasters in history, aback 426 miners died as a aftereffect of an underground access in 1972.
Unable to cope with the acute bearings any longer, widows and spouses of the company’s contributed workers as able-bodied as some changeable above workers got calm and bound to accost the aggregation by captivation demonstrations at its arch office, ambitious their connected behind remunerations.
However, the attack of these women dates aback to 2013 aback they organised their aboriginal affirmation adjoin the non-payment of their spouses’ salaries. But aback then, afore the affirmation could absolutely start, the afresh trigger-happy Zimbabwe Republic Badge admiral in Hwange, was affianced by HCCL and descended on the placardcarrying women as they fabricated their way to the aggregation arch appointment and assaulted them heavily. This was to arresting a abortive end to the women’s aboriginal attack at demonstrating adjoin the non-payment of their spouses’ salaries by the company. However, in December 2014 CNRG began alive with the women in Hwange, administering adaptation architecture workshops as able-bodied as administration non-violent strategies for absolute action. CNRG facilitated barter visits amid the women of Hwange and women from added mining-affected communities in Zimbabwe and in the region. CNRG additionally facilitated the accord of Hwange women at feminist training schools organized by WoMIN bounded alliance. Thus a new and active movement was built-in in Hwange.
Meanwhile, HCCL still has not paid its accepted and above workers their outstanding ante and has added than already reneged on its affiance to achieve the arrears in instalments. The atomic owed artisan today is owed added than $5,000.
As the aggregation connected to absence on bacon payments, the women became the breadwinners, comestible their families – including the HCCL employees— mostly through breezy trading and alive abundant base jobs. Thus the women subsidized the HCCL by accession their spouses’ bargain earnings, but the HCCL has never accustomed the contributed activity of these women.
Unable to booty the abuse any longer, spouses of HCCL’s accepted and above workers, as able-bodied as added changeable above workers, converged to already afresh accurate their depression in the anatomy of a demonstration. At a branch captivated at the colliery by CNRG and Women and Law in Southern Africa (WLSA) in December 2017, the women started discussions about non-violent absolute activity to appeal their spouses’ dues. On January 29 2018 the women went and pitched a covering at the access to HCCL offices, breadth they are camped to this actual day ambitious what the aggregation owes their families.
Privilege Musvanhiri on Twitter, January 30, 2018 Hwange Colliery workers wives approved for acquittal of their husbands’ salaries. Pics by @RutendoMapfumo]
There is a acceptable acumen why it is their spouses instead of the workers themselves who are demonstrating: the aggregation is in the addiction of victimising any artisan that raises their articulation adjoin any injustice. To additional their husbands the victimisation, the women absitively it was safer that they be the ones to protest.
It has been over a ages with the women camped alfresco the aggregation offices, braving the asperous acclimate which has over the aftermost ages been characterised by acrid winds, abundant rains and some calefaction after-effects in between, in their action for a bigger activity for their families that are currently in the claws of poverty.
This abode will focus on the plight of the Hwange women and their families as a aftereffect of non-payment of their husbands’ salaries by Hwange Colliery Aggregation and the efforts that they, with abutment and advance from CNRG and WLSA, accept been authoritative to force the coal-mining aggregation to pay what it owes. It will additionally blow on the appulse that the non-payment has had on their families and on them as women. The abode will achieve by advertence CNRG’s efforts to strengthen women in miningaffected communities like Hwange to acquiesce them to be able to advocate their rights.
2. Contributed salaries bore families into base poverty
Hwange Colliery Aggregation Bound , a mining aggregation that prides itself as actuality Zimbabwe’s above explorer, miner, processor and banker of atramentous and associated byproducts, abode over 750,000 tonnes of atramentous per year and ancient beyond that ambition in adjustment to amuse its calm barter that accommodate Zimbabwe Ability Company, Civic Foods, Stable Chemicals, small-scale tobacco farmers, Dunlop, Boc Gases, Zimchem Refineries, amoroso refineries, Macdonald Bricks and Delta Beverages, amid others and exporting to added than 13 countries which accommodate Zambia, Democratic Republic of Congo, Mozambique, South Africa, Belgium, China and Russia, has not been advantageous its workers their salaries for over bristles years. This is in animosity of the mining aggregation blithely anecdotic itself on its website as a socially amenable aggregation that cares acutely for the Hwange community. On its website it wrote:
“Hwange is altered in abounding ways. It is a mining town, a Aggregation and a atramentous town, but attributable to its alien location, it has developed as a absolute community. In adjustment to allure and accumulate staff, the Aggregation has to advance aerial standards of housing, health, shopping, ancestry and recreational facilities.”
If HCCL adhered to what it claims on its website, Hwange would be a blessed boondocks abounding of advantageous and advancing people. Instead, the adverse is true. According to its workers and their spouses, Hwange Colliery Aggregation Bound has become the actual antecedent of their affliction and has angry into a assignment adept that shows little affliction for its own advisers and the association of Hwange boondocks at large. The carelessness of its workers, who had appear to depend on it for their survival, has credible the boondocks and communities that beleaguer it biconcave abysmal into abjection and unless measures are actively put in abode to restore the area, Hwange boondocks risks acceptable a apparition boondocks in beneath than ten years.
Without money, parents are award it actual adamantine to accumulate their accouchement in school. It is now accepted to see adolescent men dabbling purposelessly in the area, while some actual adolescent girls who would accept alone out of academy are agreeable in bartering sex work, thereby putting their lives at risk.
The majority of the aggregation houses that the workers’ families alive in are dilapidated, with best of them abounding of huge cracks, thereby putting the lives of the occupants in danger. Some accept aback succumbed to the abasement and accept caved in, assuming austere crisis to the occupants. Assay agitated out by CNRG in 2016 adumbrated that workers’ abode abridgement maintenance, with the ablution accessories in an alarming state, banishment over 200 bodies to allotment a distinct toilet. Hwange women common that their bearings was a active time bomb as anytime, the breadth could see a advance of diseases such as cholera and typhoid.
Despite the aggregation houses’ afflictive condition, the aggregation has been aggressive to adios its above workers from the houses, alike admitting they accept not been paid their ante to acquiesce them to seek bigger accommodation.
Furthermore, while the aggregation continues to affirmation its abundance levels do not acquiesce them to appropriate pay its bankrupt employees, the company’s annoyed workers abode that top administration at HCCL has connected to alive flush lifestyles, with letters of them afresh affairs for top managers top-of-the-range cartage that amount amid USD$50 000 and $100 000. This is in accession to reportedly advantageous themselves allowances and anniversary administrator accepting account ammunition coupons. According to one agent who banned to be alleged for abhorrence of victimization, top administration is paid from a altered amount from the blow of the workers, with their money actuality candy in the basic city, Harare. The blow of the workers accordingly doubtable administration has connected to pay anniversary added while the blow of the workers go afterwards accepting annihilation for months on end. Meanwhile, investigations agitated out by CNRG credible that the atramentous mining aggregation owes anniversary artisan salaries alignment from $5 000 to $50 000—substantial amounts that would, if paid, acquiesce abounding Hwange families to acceleration out of their accepted accompaniment of poverty.
2.1 Women’s contributed labor
The HCCL administration has bootless to accept why women who are not on their workers’ annals are demonstrating adjoin the company. But agitation women accept a actual able and accepted acumen why they are demonstrating at the aggregation premises. It is because they are the ones who accept over the years actuality abode the burden of the abjection brought into their homes by their spouses’ situation. The women accept been subsidizing the HCCL aback 2013 aback the aggregation chock-full advantageous its advisers their abounding salaries by demography on the role of breadwinners. The workers accept been able to abide advertisement for assignment for the accomplished bristles years because best of them were actuality abiding by their wives.
According to some of the agitation women, they are now their families’ sole breadwinners as they accept been demography affliction of their spouses and children, a accomplishment they say has abundantly been belief them down. The women acclaim themselves for the assiduity of assembly at HCCL, adage afterwards their support, their husbands would accept chock-full advertisement for assignment years ago. To booty affliction of their families, the women accept been agreeable in assorted forms of breezy bread-and-butter activities alignment from cantankerous bound trade, affairs and affairs airtime, farming, automat vegetables to adaptable canteens and alive added base jobs that accommodate accomplishing people’s laundry, agronomical and charwoman houses. Some accept accustomed stokvel acclaim unions which they alarm “societies” breadth associates accord anchored sums of money to a axial armamentarium on a account base which is paid to one affiliate at a time. This has enabled some of the women to advance in baby business projects which they use to sustain their families. It is such bread-and-butter activities that accept helped to ensure their spouses abode for assignment at HCCL.
However, the HCCL has not in any way accustomed how abundant the women accept contributed into ensuring that the aggregation continues to action by demography on the role of breadwinners afterwards it chock-full advantageous their husbands. Instead, the aggregation has been alleviative the women as a bane that is abolition the accustomed breeze of business at the aggregation and needs to be gotten rid of. Instead of accessory to their apropos that resulted in them accustomed out the demonstration, the aggregation has continuously been ambrosial to the courts to accept the women removed from its premises, a assurance the aggregation doesn’t feel it owes the women anything.
2.2 Hwange Colliery Company’s heavy-handedness
Five years ago, on October 7, 2013, bristles months afterwards HCCL had chock-full advantageous its workers, the wives of the company’s workers and widows of its above workers absitively to authenticate to force the aggregation to pay, citation the abjection that had been brought aloft their lives by the non-payment. Instead of agreeable them to abode the amount as the women had hoped, their attack at demonstrating was met with force and acerbity as the aggregation affianced the casework of Hwange badge to accord with the demonstrators. The agitable badge did not booty connected afore they descended on the women, acutely assaulting the placard-waving women as they marched to the company’s arch office. The advance the women suffered at the easily of the adamant badge was to see them relenting—effectively bringing to an end what could accept been a acknowledged advertisement of their disgruntlement.
Five years later, in 2018, HCCL still hasn’t paid what it owes its workers and the amounts accept coiled out of control. If the adversity that fell on the company’s families aback the aggregation chock-full advantageous them in 2013 was bad abundant to accreditation their demography to the streets in protest, afresh one can alone brainstorm how abundant the bearings has attenuated added than bristles years bottomward the line.
Hwange Colliery basement is old and inefficient. It reportedly appearance the aftermost beef adaptable in bartering use on the African continent.
2.3 Hwange Colliery Aggregation afresh turns antagonistic
When the women began their protest, ambience their afflicted about 500 meters abroad from the Administration block access on January 29 2018, they hoped this time the aggregation would heed their plea. However, HCCL afresh angry afraid and in a move evocative of 2013, the company’s aboriginal acknowledgment to the affirmation was to appoint the badge in an attack to banish the demonstrators.
But in an aberrant move, Hwange badge this time beneath to assist, citation that the demonstrators had the appropriate to beef in acceding of area 59 of the Constitution. Instead, all that the badge offered to do was to ensure that the affirmation was peaceful, and accurate to their word, badge admiral accept ensured the beef is conducted peacefully.
2.4 HCCL starts activity the pressure
On Sunday 11 February 2018 the aggregation alleged for what it termed “an all stakeholders meeting” which was abounding by the workers committee, barter unions, retired advisers who were owed money, assembly of demonstrating women, widows of above abundance employees, retired above authoritative advisers who are additionally owed money, pensioners, the Ministry of Labour, the police, Zimbabwe Defence Forces (ZDF) and Chief Shana of Hwange.
In the meeting, HCCL accepted that the aggregation owed its workers a absolute of $70 million, about emphasising that its workers were not the alone bodies it owed as it owed all its creditors a absolute of $352 million. HCCL administration said they did not accept the money to pay what afresh aggregation owed its accepted and above workers, but could alone pay if sales improve, adage that the ahead agreed “Scheme of Arrangement” remained the alone way to achieve the matter. The said Scheme of Acceding was aboriginal agreed on in 2015 afterwards workers had appropriate ambrosial to the government to accept HCCL placed beneath attorneys management; a move administration was artlessly against to. In an attack to annihilate the fire, administration agreed that it would, in a aeon of four years and six months, pay anybody it owed 23% of what was owed. However, the aggregation has reneged on its acceding with the workers beneath the said Scheme of Arrangement and has to date alone paid workers 12.2% out of the 23% they had agreed on in 2015, with the money paid alone aback those owed put the administration beneath burden to pay.
At the meeting, workers had a adventitious to alone detail their plight, cogent the administration how they were declining to bulwark for their families, their abortion to pay academy and university fees for their children, abridgement of medical affliction and the blackmail of evictions from aggregation houses, amid added problems.
But in the end, seeing that HCCL administration was not actuality sincere, the assembly of the women demonstrators absolved out afore the end of the meeting. Meanwhile, the affirmation connected accepting drive by the day.
2.5 The amount spills into courts
On February 7, the HCCL approached the Aerial Cloister in Bulawayo gluttonous to be accepted an adjustment to bar the Hwange women from continuing to authenticate on its premises. It was an act advised to added bulldoze the badge to adios the women, but the Bulawayo Aerial Cloister threw out the case.
On February 28, HCCL took the amount to Harare Aerial Cloister breadth it hoped to get a added favorable cardinal and fabricated an appliance beneath the Certificate of Coercion to accept the demonstrators evicted. In this case the aggregation cited Acting Commissioner General of badge Edwin Matanga and Hwange Badge Station Officer in Charge, Chief Inspector James Ngoma as respondents for their abortion to banish the demonstrators. In a accommodation that brought agrarian acclaim from the women, CNRG and abounding associates of the accessible that abounding the cloister audition in adherence with the Hwange women, the adjudicator Justice Makoni who presided over the matter, absolved it on the area that it was a case that was actual far from warranting urgency, additionally citation area 59 of the Constitution that affords bodies the appropriate to protest.
2.6 Government’s inaction
At first, the government, who has a 37 percent authoritative pale in HCCL, decidedly remained mum on the situation. It was alone aback HCCL had bootless to banish the demonstrators that government bound to accelerate the Home Affairs abbot Obert Mpofu to abode the demonstrators. By sending Obert Mpofu, whose alone appliance was that he hails from Matabeleland North arena breadth HCCL is situated, the workers and the demonstrating women acquainted that government had trivialized and politicized the crisis.
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It anon became credible to the demonstrators that Mpofu had alone been beatific to use his political ascendancy to actuate them to disperse, and not to appear to their concerns. Infuriated, the women told Mpofu he was not the appropriate actuality to abode them and asked him not to appear aback to abode them if he had no band-aid to their problems.
After the women had maintained their resolve, acutely blah by Abbot Mpofu’s appeal for them to disperse, the government on March 7 beatific the Abbot of Labour Petronella Kagonye. Afterwards actuality bound in chase affairs with HCCL administration that lasted for added than seven hours, Abbot Kagonye assuredly alleged into the affair the demonstrators’ representatives, analytic them on why they were demonstrating aback they were not active by HCCL. The abbot went on to acquaint the women the defalcation amount was amid the aggregation and its workers and it was actuality abounding to, cogent the women they had no business actuality camped at the company’s bounds and acclimation them to anon disperse.
While the Labour minister’s appointment resulted in the advertisement that activity advanced HCCL would pay its workers their abounding salaries as it works on accomplishing its pledges beneath the Scheme of Agreement, which would accompany abatement to abounding families if the affiance is fulfilled, the women accept bound to abide camped at the aggregation bounds until the promised money starts absorption in their coffer accounts. This is a move that CNRG hails because the aggregation is in the addiction of abetment out of its promises and has over the years accurate it cannot be trusted to accumulate its word.
In its action measures, the government has apparent added assurance to stop the demonstrating women in adjustment to accompany aback adjustment to the aggregation added than accessory to the women’s concerns.
Additionally, the bearings in Hwange is always alluring the absorption of political players, some of who assume to see it as an befalling to added their political interests. On March 6, the women demonstrators accustomed a appointment from Joice Mujuru, who bidding affair for their movement, auspicious them to continue. Ironically, Mujuru was the country’s carnality admiral aback the company, in which the government is the above shareholder, started crumbling as a aftereffect of mismanagement. Afterwards she departed, the women were larboard assertive the appointment had been annihilation but an acclamation attack as she intends to run for admiral in the accessible elections.
In acknowledgment to the arbitrary assay of women in mining areas, Centre for Natural Resource Governance is implementing a three-year movement architecture activity for women afflicted by mining in Hwange, Mutoko, Penhalonga, Marange, Darwendale and Bikita. Supported by the Open Association Initiative for Southern Africa (OSISA), the activity aims at deepening the articulation of women afflicted by extractive industries so they can avert their economic, amusing and cultural rights in the deathwatch of extractivism. A analytical accumulation of women is ascent to claiming the archetypal of extractivism prevailing in Zimbabwe, which ethics profits over people’s welfare.
Selected Added resources:
Report on the Bearings of Atramentous Mining in Hwange: Special Focus on Hwange Colliery Aggregation CNRG, July 2016 http://cnrgzim.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/CNRG-_HWANGE-REPORT-1.pdf
Nyasha Muchichwa, Alive afterwards Pay: Wage Annexation in Zimbabwe. Adherence Center, 2016. http://www.solidaritycenter.org – Absolute URL: http://tinyurl.com/y7ewon3g
“Address Grievances of Hwange Colliery Workers: ZCTU,” Spiked, February 14, 2018. http://spiked.co.zw – Absolute URL: http://tinyurl.com/y8hf9nno
Zimbabwe Congress of Barter Unions (ZCTU) affair with Hwange women protesters, February 1, 2018 – 15 minute video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9tIsHAGLGvA Conversation mostly in Ndebele and Shona. For backgroound commodity in English, see the antecedent link.
“100 canicule of snubbing Zimbabwean workers,” Industiall glboal abutment federation, March 7, 2018 http://www.industriall-union.org – Absolute URL: http://tinyurl.com/yauj2zpf
Steam adaptable at Hwange Colliery, July 2017 – 7.5 minute video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UVfDT2UmpT8
AfricaFocus Bulletin is an absolute cyberbanking advertisement accouterment reposted annotation and assay on African issues, with a accurate focus on U.S. and all-embracing policies. AfricaFocus Bulletin is edited by William Minter.
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