The workers have gone for one and half years without salaries, while operations have been grounded due to viability problems. The mines were grabbed by President Robert Mugabe’s government a few years back from exiled businessman, Mutumwa Mawere. Prime Minister and Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) leader Morgan Tsvangirai has ordered that Mawere be given his business empire back so that a rescue plan can be worked out.
Radio VOP witnessed the visibly troubled workers, most of whom are now surviving on menial jobs in the nearby Masvingo Town, getting food handouts which included mealie-meal, cooking oil, beans and corn.
WFP Zimbabwe’s programme director, Kevin Farrell, told Radio VOP in an interview Thursday that his organisation, despite focusing mainly in the rural areas, was touched by the plight of the more than 5 000 workers who were vulnerable.
“Although we focus our relief efforts mainly in rural areas, we also saw it fit to intervene as the workers are vulnerable, lack any income but have families to support. Others were getting help from relatives. This is the same desperate situation that applies in rural areas, and so we had to help,” Farrell said.
He said 3 000 people-including workers and their dependents-were given food Wednesday in the first phase, while the remaining will also get the hand-outs in three phases which are to be rolled out by end of April.