Redcliff In Massive Evictions

By Mark Mhukayesango

KWEKWE, December 1, 2015 -THE mining town of Redcliff is reportedly evicting former Ziscosteel
Steel workers from company houses in the wake of government
announcement that over 3000 workers will be served with termination of
contracts with effect from Tuesday.
Over the past month hundreds of workers who had gone for years without
pay have been thrown out of their houses as they could not afford
rentals.
The mining town has become a ghost town as Zisco was the major company
which employed most of the adult population in the town, but since it
closed life has become worse.
But the aftermath of Minister of Finance announcement that the Essar
deal signed in 2010 had failed during his presentation of the 2016
budget has further plunged the mining town into despair as 3000
employees have been fired to make the company more attractive to
investors.
This has rendered thousands of families into abject poverty with most
of the families failing to afford decent accommodation.
Speaking to Radio VOP , former Zisco workers are bracing for tough
times ahead as there is seems to be no hope of resuming work at the
steel maker which has capacity to bring a total transformation to
industry in Zimbabwe when fully operational.
“There is no hope here because the Indian company pulled out when we
thought all was going according to plan,” Moses Musekwa, a former
handyman told Radio VOP.
Musekwa says government has not been sincere with the workers who
somewhat still believed that the steel giant would be operational
again.
“They should have told us a long time ago that the deal was off. Now
thousands are sent packing because of incompetence,” a visibly angry
Musekwa said.
Presenting the country’s 2016 budget in Harare, Chinamasa said the
government would take over Zisco’s estimated $700 million debt in a
bid to entice another investor, after a deal with India’s Essar signed
in 2010 failed to take off years after the deal was signed by
President Robert Mugabe.
The company is saddled with a $17 million debt with a large chunk
comprising of the a wage bill which was unviable for any investor.
Primrose Musengi, a widow whose husband died whilst employed at Zisco
was stranded as she had nowhere to go.
“This has been my home for decades and its not fair to be thrown out
like that,” Musengi who stays in Torwood H Section said.
Musengi whose husband has not benefitted from his pension fund, said
that her jobless children have no means of eking a living.
“I have 5 children and they are all unemployed, two could not finish
high school due to lack of fees. My husband’s pension fund is not yet
out because they say the company was not remmitting the funds ,” said
Musengi.
Zisco owes each worker over $20 000 in salary arrears and hundreds of
families are on the verge of homelessness.
Torwood Residents Association (Tora) organising secretary Daniser
Ncube blasted council for being insensitive to the plight of its
residents.
“Council does not care at all about its residents. We all know that
Zisco has been shut down and the economy is not performing well, where
does council expect people to get money from,” Ncube asked.
He said council should desist from calling debt collectors on
defaulters and stop the eviction as they were a violation of human
rights.
“Every resident deserves decent accommodation and the evictions are
inhuman. There should to solve this challenge,” said Ncube.
Mayor Fred Kapuya was not reachable when contacted for comment as his
council intensifies evictions.
Redcliff has been struggling ever since Zisco shut down as it was the
major employer and rate payer.
The council early this year contracted debt collectors to recover over
$20 million in rates arrears.