20 February 2013

Zimbabwe: Police Disperse Crowd From Renco Mine

Scores of villagers from Nyajena communal lands joined wives of Renco Mine workers on Monday morning temporarily besieging the entrance to the mine to stop management from collecting gold bullion.

The crowd was however reportedly dispersed by riot police. The crowd singing revolutionary songs wanted to stop RioZim officials from collecting 33 kilogrammes of purified gold produced at the mine. They demanded that the mine pay the workers' bonuses and improve their working conditions.

The Herald visited Renco Mine on Monday afternoon but calm had been restored although the situation remained tense with workers and the community saying mine officials had collected 33kgs of gold. Renco mine workers committee chairperson Mr Vincent Matiza said armed riot police had intervened and dispersed the crowd camped at the mine gate.

Mr Matiza said Rio Zim officials had landed at the nearby airstrip and collected the gold accompanied by riot  police.

"We had camped at the mine entrance to block the gates after we got wind that officials from Harare were coming to collect about 33 kgs of gold but we were threatened with arrest," said Mr Matiza.

Mrs Elizabeth Kufonya from Renco Mine compound who was among the protesting crowd said they were threatened with imminent arrest for blocking the mine entrance.

"We want to appeal to Government for intervention. Why are our concerns being ignored while our husbands are suffering?

"We did not want them to collect the gold until we reached an agreement they would pay the workers including their bonuses for last year and also salary increments," she said.

Mrs Kufonya said the situation for Renco Mine workers was now dire as most of the workers could not even affording to send their children to school. Renco mine manager Mr Cyprian Kachisa said he was not in a position to comment since he was not around on Monday.

"The gold which is produced at the mine is collected by the owners whenever they want to. My duty is just to produce the gold. I do not know whether any gold was collected on Monday because I was not around,"he said.

Masvingo police spokesperson Inspector Peter Zhanero denied police deployment at the mine saying the crowd had gathered to present their grievances to senior Rio Zim officials from Harare.

"As far as we are concerned there were no disturbances at Renco mine and the police officers went there Monday to assess the situation and make sure there are no problems," he said.

The Renco mine community and employees have vowed to push Masvingo South legislator Cde Walter Mzembi to negotiate for them with Rio Zim officials as their representative in Parliament. Cde Mzembi together with Chivi South legislator Cde Ivine Dzingirai were recently barred by the High Court from interfering with activities at Renco Mine.

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