Leaders of the Zimbabwe Diamond Workers’ Union (ZDWU) appeared before the Justice Mayor Wadyajena-led Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Youth and Indigenisation, where they claimed they were often sidelined resulting in government losing $15 billion in revenue.
“The union could not do much to push for the employee rights because there was a lot of victimisation to the extent that some senior managers would say this company is owned by the army, and so you will be in hot soup,” ZDWU general secretary, Justice Chinhema, said.
“Others would say this company is owned by the First Lady, while some said the other company was owned by Mujuru and they would not recognise workers’ rights because the companies were owned by big sharks.”
They alleged managers claimed Zimbabwe Diamond Mining Company was owned by Grace, while Ainjin was owned by the military.
Further pressed by the committee if they had evidence of ownership of the companies by the three, some of the workers chickened out and could not substantiate the claims.
But ZDWU president Francis Matinyarare said: “It was just name-dropping done by management, so that workers would not pursue their issues. Even if today we were to ask those managers about it, they would deny it. We are not saying they are the owners, but we are saying this is what was said by the management to intimidate the workers.”
The workers said $15 billion diamond revenue went missing under the noses of the Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation, Mines ministry and State security departments.
Matinyarare said workers were pained seeing diamonds being flown out to be sold, yet they were owed up to 14 months’ salary arrears.
“I stick by that there was externalisation. We mined diamonds and lived in one-roomed barracks shared by 16 employees of different trades and some would give details of the diamond ore mined on a particular day – sometimes five cups of diamonds, but a month down the line workers were not paid their salaries,” he said.
Workers said consolidation of diamond mining companies in Chiadzwa had left about
2 000 employees disempowered, sidelined and abused without clarity on whether their salary dues would be paid and also if the amalgamated diamond company would re-employ the affected. Other forms of repression that the workers claimed they faced while mining diamonds in Chiadzwa included beatings by Chinese bosses, salary discrepancies and hiring of foreigners from Pakistan, including pickers from India, Cameroon and South Africa.
“At DMC, we have ladies who were allegedly raped by one accountant (name supplied), who is a foreigner, and the cases were reported to ZRP Bambazonke, but have been swept under the carpet, maybe because of corruption,” the workers said.-Newsday