Uncertainty at Vubachikwe Mine

By Zachary Gava

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WORKERS at Vubachikwe Mine started the year 2023 with uncertainty over what the future holds
for them as January marks over two months since operations were suspended.
Operations at the mine were suspended on November 8 last year after a demonstration over unpaid
salaries in arrears of three months turned violent.
Spouses of workers at the mine barricaded the main entrance of the mine demanding audience with
the management, while blocking workers from going to work.
The situation turned violent after management refused to address the spouses of mine workers and
police had to be called to quell the situation.
Since then, only essential services such as dewatering the mine shafts, repairing critical infrastructure
and heavy equipment maintenance are functioning.
A visit to the mine last weekend revealed a gloomy situation at the workers compound.
A worker, who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisals, said the mine management
through their statement in the press last year were not telling the truth on the state of affairs at the
once thriving mine.
“I was surprised to read what the mine manager was saying. Yes, the demonstration turned violent but
the damage that he said was inflicted was overstated.
“In the statement, he was saying literary everything had been destroyed to the extent that operations
could not resume, but that is not the truth.
“The management is just short for answers on mismanagement and why they had been failing to pay
us for three months. The protest has given them time to breath and make excuses to halt operations at
the mine,” said the worker.
Another worker interviewed said all workers had been living in agony way before operations were
suspended as they last received their salaries in August 2022.
“The August salaries were half of what we were supposed to get, and you can imagine how we have
been surviving since.
“We had a miserable festive season as we could not provide anything for our families, let alone travel
to our rural homes to visit relatives.
“We are surviving through the mercy of God and just a few workers have been lucky to get piece jobs
elsewhere but these cannot sustain us,” he said.

A distraught spouse of one of the mine workers said it was disheartening that their children had been
sent back home because the parents could not afford to pay school fees.
“The impasse between mine management and workers should just end and something should be done
to resume operations.
“We are now suffering because of this and we do not know what the future holds, our children are
being sent back for non-payment of fees and you can imagine the situation of those with children that
are supposed to begin Form 1, where new uniforms and a number of things are needed,” she
lamented.
A visit to Entokozweni bar, a place where mine workers go for merry-making during weekends while
drinking and watching soccer or engaging in entertaining activities, resembled an abandoned place
with only two men inside in the company of the bar man.
Management at the mine have remained resolute in not talking to the media.
The mine’s company spokesperson, Robert Mukondiwa, again promised to respond but had not done
so at the time of going to print.
A statement by mine manager Nan Kananji in November said operations would resume when ‘the
environment would be “safe for workers”.
“Mining operations have been temporarily suspended due to an illegal strike and riot that occurred on
the 8 th of November 2022, which caused substantial damage to the mine and physical injury to certain
employees.
“This illegal strike had been preceded by two other illegal strikes that took place on 17 October and 1
November, which have also contributed to the current situation.
“Ensuring a safe workplace for all employees is a top priority as well as protecting the mine and its
assets,” read part of the statement.

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