Zvishavane-Ngezi MP, John Holder (Zanu PF), yesterday moved a motion in the National Assembly, demanding the resuscitation of the comatose Shabanie & Mashaba Mines (SMM).
BY VENERANDA LANGA
Holder said since 2005 when SMM was put under reconstruction under an administrator, Afaras Gwaradzimba, the company’s situation worsened and its assets were further stripped.
He said 5 500 workers had been affected by closure of the mine.
Holder said the mine was now flooded, with water levels at 570 metres. He said this meant that if action was not taken immediately and flooding rose above the current levels, SMM would never open again.
“When the then Justice minister Patrick Chinamasa placed the mine under reconstruction, it had 26 subsidiaries and all of them are now gone, yet SMM has 42 million tonnes of fibre underground of which a study was done and it showed SMM asbestos as clean,” Holder said.
“The mine is now a sleeping giant and it is better that the mine be run by (Mutumwa) Mawere because now it is a sleeping giant and every month they pay Zesa bills to pump out the water yet the 5 500 workers have not been paid since 2004 and some of them are now deceased.”
Holder said it defied the spirit of indigenisation to continue to deprive former owner Mawere of a chance to resuscitate SMM, as he is a Zimbabwean.
“There are certain things that have happened, but I believe they can be resolved to ensure the mine is resuscitated to benefit the people of Zimbabwe. They say there was externalisation, but if it happened, Mawere would have been convicted,” he said.
Seconder of the motion, Southerton MP, Gift Chimanikire (MDC-T), said the situation at SMM was a tragedy.
He said young girls were entering into early child marriages because of poverty and former SMM engineers and technicians were now engaging in artisanal gold mining to make a living.
“Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation was tasked with resuscitating operations, but it is clear that they cannot revive SMM when all the mines that are under them closed. That Mawere externalised money is not an issue because every businessperson in this country has externalised,” he said.
Buhera South MP, Joseph Chinotimba (Zanu PF), said there was no point in keeping a grudge against Mawere.
He said the government should forgive the South Africa-based businessman if he had done anything wrong, so that he could resuscitate the mines and save the thousands of suffering workers.
Uzumba MP, Simbaneuta Mudarikwa (Zanu PF), said former SMM workers should be engaged to resuscitate the comatose firm, which could bring the country the much-needed foreign currency through asbestos exports.