Bulawayo — THE Zimbabwean High Court has ruled in favour of women protesting over non-payment of their husbands by the country's biggest coal mine.
It is alleged the mine has failed to pay the workers for five years.
Judge Justice Lavender Makoni dealt a major blow to the Hwange Colliery Company (HCC)'s bid to evict and bar spouses of mine workers from protesting.
HCC recently petitioned the High Court seeking an order to evict the spouses of the HCC employees from occupying the company's premises in Hwange in Matabeleland North province and to bar them from staging protests demanding payment on behalf of their husbands' outstanding wages and salaries.
The Zimbabwe Stock Exchange-listed coal-miner wanted the High Court to grant an order compelling police, to assist in evicting the protesting women and their children from occupying the premises. Zimbabwean police are notorious for brutalising people during evictions.
The colliery, owned by government, sought police intervention claiming the spouses were disrupting the coal miner's day to day operations.
However, in an unprecedented move, police argued that the spouses had a right to protest as provided in the constitution.
The high court has thus dealt the financially-strapped mine a double blow.
The miners' wives have since January been staging demonstrations at the mine situated more than 300 kilometres north of the second capital Bulawayo.
HCC is among the mining firms bearing the brunt of chaotic policies blamed on the administration of former President Robert Mugabe.
His successor, Emmerson Mnangagwa, has embarked on a campaign to attract investors into the sector.