KAROI — Thirty-three-year-old Chipo Kapingira is pregnant but something is eating her heart out daily.
By Nhau Mangirazi
She is among several pregnant women who are affected by failure to pay salaries by Lynx Graphite mine .
Workers at the mine, 50 kilometres west of Karoi town, have gone for a year without salaries.
“I am five months pregnant and we are starting preparations for the unborn child but my husband last got paid 13 months ago,” she said.
Kapingira, who has three other children aged 5, 10 and 15 years said people in the area have lost hope.
Another pregnant woman Dadirai Banda feared a health disaster at the mine.
“We are surviving through God’s grace after the mine stopped treating drinking water in August last year. We are drinking water direct from the dam. Although we boil the water, it is a health hazard for us, including the children,” Banda said.
The mine maternity wing situated a stone’s throw away from the main compound is strategically positioned for expecting mothers here.
The mine initially had two nurses both trained as midwives, but one retired in 2016 leaving the single nurse to attend to several health cases.
Clad in an informal shirt and a pair of jeans, the nurse refused to comment as he was not authorised to speak to the media.
But sources revealed he was in a fix.
“He has not been paid like many of us and he no longer has uniforms,” said one of the worker representatives.
“The company cannot afford to offer him soap to use after deliveries. We are concerned about the health situation and the only nurse here is working under pressure.”
According to statistics gleaned by The Standard, there were 22 deliveries at the mine in July last year while August had the highest number of 28 babies.
“What makes his job akin to slavery is that sometimes he is forced by circumstances to work almost 24 hours a day.
For instance, on one occasion a woman delivered around 4am and he was up to help her although he also had to start normal duty around 7am.
“We were looking forward to management to address the salary issue so that other essential services are catered for,” said workers committee chairman Sylvester Beremauro.
Loice Butete said the mine did not have an ambulance.
“It is unfortunate that even if there are complications we have to rely on public transport, yet the mine used to have its own ambulance to cater for our needs,’ she said.
Sources alleged a senior official took the ambulance engine and fitted it to his personal truck.