8 February 2013

Zimbabwe: Mzembi Accused of Electioneering

Photo: Rio Zim
Renco mine in Zimbabwe

TENSIONS are running high in the unfolding crisis at Renco Mine in Masvingo South amid revelations the on-going workers' unrest, which has led to a political hostile takeover bid of the RioZim-owned mine by Chivi South MP Irvine Dzingirayi, could be electioneering

The high-profile saga, which has sucked in Masvingo South legislator Walter Mzembi together with his personal assistant Obediah Mazombwe, is deteriorating with workers occupying the mine after the High Court on Wednesday reserved judgement on Renco Mine's application seeking the eviction of the illegal occupants.

The matter has attracted a lot of attention, especially after Mzembi earlier this week alleged he was offered a US$100 000 bribe by the company to turn a blind eye on the company's malpractices.

The minister said he rejected the money because he was not that cheap.

RioZim argues that Mzembi, who is also Tourism minister and a member of Zanu PF's politburo, is using his political muscle to seize the company.

The miner also alleges that the illegal occupation is being incited by Mzembi in a bid to boost his prospects in the next elections to be held later this year.

RioZim says the illegal invasion is costing the company US$150 000 in lost production each day the mine remains shut. Furthermore, Riozim alleges that Dzingirai used the militia to illegally takeover the mine.

In their opposing affidavit deposed by Dzingirai in defence of the trio, Mzembi and his allies make a counter claim that the company and its employees have been embroiled in labour disputes for some months now which culminated in the mine shutting down from January 14 - 20.

Dzingirai denies using the militia to illegally occupy the mine, giving pictures of the meeting cited by RioZim as his defence. He further argues instead that the volatile situation at Renco was triggered by RioZim's attempts to renege on its indigenisation obligations.

"I believe the applicant does not want to implement the full indigenisation plan and is trying to retract its undertaking which is one of the reasons why they are having disputes with the community," reads part of Dzingirai's affidavit.

"The application by Nunudzai Michel Masunda that I declared that I had taken over the mine is false, malicious and scandalous. As I have indicated above, the mining manager is still at the mine and is carrying out his duties as before."

In a supporting affidavit, Mzembi said RioZim chairman Elisha Mushayakarara sought his assistance to resolve the labour dispute as well as secure indigenisation compliance certification.

The minister further alleges that Mushayakarara later offered him US$100 000 for his own use. "I have no desire to take over the mine or prevent applicant from operating the mine," Mzembi said, adding his involvement with the matter was purely on behalf of his constituency.

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