Investment or Infliction? The untold story of Redwing Mine
Located in the mineral rich area of Penhalonga in Mutare, and in its struggling state, Redwing Mine has turned out to be an eyesore to its employees, who some of them have served it for more than 30 years. The problems associated with the presence of mining companies are not only limited to inflicting damages to the environment but also damages to the immediate societies.
When one serves a company for a long time, a gold mining company for that matter, one expects a decent reward. However, this is not the case with most of former Redwing employees, who are now being treated as trash after serving the company for a long time. Most mining investments in Zimbabwe have brought more harm than good to employees and the surrounding communities.
Speaking at the sidelines of a Public Reform Indaba on the 3rd of April 2019 convened by the Zimbabwe Coalition on Debt and Development (ZIMCODD) in Mutare, Councillor Sabunetti Njazi of Ward 21, Penhalonga, bare it all when she narrated the ordeal of how her husband and other co-workers receive unjust treatment from the Redwing Mine when the gold mine downsized due to operational challenges. She claimed that her husband joined the mine in 1978 when it used to be vibrant before problems loomed after the Economic Structural Adjustment Programme (ESAP) in 1992.
When things got worse, her husband together with other workers were laid off despite the companies’ wage backlogs for the employees. ZIMCODD’s conversation with Councillor Njazi came amid reports by the Manica Post that about 200 workers at Redwing Mine downed tools in protest over non-payment of wages, poor working conditions and several other work-related grievances.
“Izvezvi murume wangu kushanda kwaaiita, Redwing Mine yakavamisa basa vachiti varikuenda papackage asi yanga isiri package vaitaura backlog. Mukunetsana nekuzowanawo vamiririri, company yakazokurirwa kumaCourts ikanzi ipe vanhu backlog yemari dzavo. Iyo Redwing payakakurwira yakabva yati ichadzosera vanhu pabasa asi havana kudzorerwa kumabasa and vanga vachishanda vacho macontractors vakabva vatomiswa kuti hapasisina basa. Pakabva paitwa zvamaTickets ekuti vanhu vanoti two weeks on, two weeks off.”
(Redwing Mine laid off my husband and never paid them their package, however it was not a package in strict sense because the mine wanted to pay for wage backlogs. After much resistance and having legal support for the workers, the mine was compelled to pay for the backlog and it resorted to rehiring the employees but that did not happen. It ended up developing a ticket system where the remaining employees work for two weeks a month.)
Nevertheless, despite these people having lost their livelihood, the injustice worsens as the affected families are now living under unbearable conditions with the former employees not receiving money as such can’t afford basic necessities including food, clothing and electricity thereby undermining the social and economic rights of these citizens.
This is a typical case of the natural resource curse or the paradox of plenty where communities with vast natural resource endowments are impoverished and benefit less from the economic activities in their areas-Zimbabwe Coalition on Debt and Development (ZIMCODD).