Nyanyadzi — TEMPERS flared last week during a meeting of representatives of a new workers union for diamond workers and hundreds of villagers allegedly fired by Chiadzwa-based diamond mining companies.
BY OUR CORRESPONDENT
The meeting was organised by the recently formed Zimbabwe Diamond Miners Workers Union (ZDWU) which is aligned to Buhera South legislator Joseph Chinotimba’s Zimbabwe Federation of Trade Unions.
The villagers alleged that over 1 000 of them had their contracts terminated soon after the July 31 elections for unexplained reasons by three of the diamond mining companies in Chiadzwa namely Mbada, Marange Resources and Anjin.
But it was the presence of a senior official from Anjin which irked the villagers who resorted to shouting threatening words at him.
They said had it not been for the presence of ZDWU officials, they would have manhandled the official only identified as Mukango, a public relations manager for Anjin.
“He (Mukango) must be grateful because of your (ZDWU) presence here; otherwise we could have torn him apart,” shouted a dreadlocked middle aged man. We are very bitter here, because of these companies which are tapping our resources but dismiss us from work.”
Another villager who used to work as an internal locomotive driver alleged that his contract was physically torn by diamond officials without an explanation.
“What makes us angrier is the fact that after the termination of our contracts, the companies hired labour from outside Manicaland and new people are now occupying our positions,” Chemutinyo Sagondore said.
Other stakeholders who attended the meeting among them headmen Nemaramba and Chiduwe and war veterans were also critical of diamond companies
Headman Nemaramba had no kind words for diamond mining companies.
“Cases of criminal activities are now high after our children were dismissed by these companies,” he said. “These companies have diverted from what we agreed to when they started operating. We are not demanding much from these companies but just that they absorb our children.”
The tense environment was rescued by the local councillor Reuben Mujee who reprimanded the angry crowd.
“Your concerns have been noted. It is my plea that you forgive Mukango. He has come here to listen to what you are saying. I am also pleading with Mukango to forgive these villagers; they are your sons and daughters. Even if they are to come back to work, please do not victimise them. All they have been saying here was driven by anger,” he said.
Mukango was reluctant to comment to The Standard after the hostile reception.
“I came here at the invitation of the union. What has ended up happening is not what I expected. That is all I can tell you at the moment,” he said while declining to state his full name.
ZDWU secretary-general, Justice Chinhema warned that the union would approach the labour court for recourse.
“We heard your concerns but you must also understand that not all of the dismissals were unlawful,” said Chinhema. “There are some of you who erred and were fired. That is what we want to establish first before we prepare our court papers.”