180 mine workers arrested over wage protest

GWANDA – At least 183 Vubachikwe Gold Mine workers have been arrested for alleged violent protest over unpaid wages at the mine.

Vubachikwe is located in Matabeleland South, 8km north-west of the provincial capital Gwanda.

The protesters, who are also accused of destroying mine property, say they have gone for two months without being paid.

Posting on Twitter Wednesday, the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) said the mine workers were being charged with public violence.

“From Gwanda urban police station, our lawyers confirm that the mine workers employees arrested has risen to 183 made up of 4 women and 179 men.

“The employees were arrested today for allegedly participating in a protest against their employer for not paying their salaries for the past two months.

“Our lawyers Jabulani Mhlanga and Prisca Dube have been advised by @Police Zimbabwe that the mine employees will be charged with public violence.

“They are charged with failing to comply with the conditions which were set for the sanctioned demonstration,” said ZLHR.

Police could not be readily reached for comment while Vubachikwe public relations officer Robert Mukondiwa’s phones also went unanswered.

On Monday, police denied a request by some miners’ wives represented by Sharon Kanjena and Nomsa Dube to protest on behalf of their husbands over outstanding wages.

“Notification to conduct a demonstration by Vubachikwe Mine workers wives on 8 November. I refer to your letter in connection to the above subject matter.

“Please kindly note that the office acknowledges your intention to hold your demonstration against the mine management due to unpaid salaries.

“This office has noted with concerns that you as Vubachikwe Mine wives you want to demonstrate against mine management on behalf of your husbands who work at the mine.

“You are not employees of the mine or members of any mine workers, according to the Labour Act chapter 28:01, therefore you cannot demonstrate against mine management since you are not employed by mine management,” reads a police from Gwanda.

In 2017, mine workers at Vubachikwe Mine downed their tools citing outstanding payments while also pressing for better working conditions.

In April this year, 163 workers reportedly resigned following an investigation of a systematic gold looting scheme.

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