Ferrochrome producer Zimasco has hiked rentals for its properties in Shurugwi more than five-fold and is threatening to evict those who do not pay.
Zimasco closed its Shurugwi plant about six years ago and is renting out the houses which used to accommodate the employees.
But the latest sudden jump is causing distress.
Tenants said monthly rentals for a house in the high-density suburb had been reviewed from $500 to $2 800, while a house in the low-density area rose from $4 500 to $28 000.
“I have been paying $4 500 for a full house and recently I received a notice that the rent has been reviewed to $28 000 and I believe this is unrealistic. The figure is just exorbitant and I think the company management is just trying to tell us that they no longer want us,” said one of the affected tenants, Mr Ronald Mashoko.
Mr Mashoko said most tenants were in arrears and the new rentals were beyond the reach of many.
Another tenant, Mrs Leona Mageza, said they had since approached the local councillor to help negotiate with the Zimasco management on the new rentals.
Rank ( + / – )She said most of the tenants were former workers of the company who were still owed money by the company. They suspect that the company’s decision to increase the rentals was a way of trying to clear the salary arrears.
“The company has not been benefiting much from these rentals since the rental money was being deducted from what the company owed the employees in terms of salaries,” she said.
“So it seems the company has hiked the rentals so that they quickly clear the salaries owed before they start collecting money from the tenants. It is a gimmick so we have approached the local councillor to help us negotiate with the company.”
The councillor for the area, Freddy Ncube said they would be meeting Zimasco’s management on Friday.
“We approached the management and they agreed to have a meeting with us this Friday so that we negotiate on the new rents which everyone believes were unrealistic,” he said.
Zimasco human resources manager Mr Fungai Manyau confirmed the increase in rentals, but referred further questions to the company’s spokesperson, Ms Clara Sadomba, who did not respond to questions sent to her.