ZMDC has failed: MP

Legislators took the deputy minister of Mines and Mining Development to task over the inactivity at Shabanie & Mashaba Mines, which mines asbestos, following its hand over to the Mines ministry.

President Robert Mugabe decreed that the reconstruction of SMM be moved from the ministry of Justice and Legal Affairs, whose head Patrick Chinamasa appeared to be pursuing a vindictive agenda against previous owner Mutumwa Mawere, to the Mines ministry, which has now been tasked with its revival.

Workers unpaid

"We have a parastatal that actually handles these issues – ZMDC. As such, we gave them the duty to ensure that resuscitation takes place," Chimanikire said. "There is what is called handover/takeover that is done by those who were in the Ministry of Justice. After the audit, ZMDC is now at a stage were they have the money to resuscitate Shabani-Mashaba Mine and Gates Mine and pay the workers for a period of three months – according to their own admission.

The asbestos-mining entity was placed under curatorship following owner Mutumwa Mawere’s flight to South Africa several years ago. Mbizo MP Settlement Chikwinya asked why the ministry did not look for an investor given that government is struggling to revive the firm.

"Did the letter from Cabinet specifically mention ZMDC or was it simply supposed to give the ministry an opportunity to explore other potential investors into Shabani-Mashaba Mines?" Chikwinya asked.

Chimanikire clairified that the letter was actually from the President.

"This was a directive from the President of the country, not a letter from Cabinet and the directive was such that we should take-over the running of Shabani-Mashaba Mine," Chimanikire said. "

Workers frustrated

Zvishavane MP Obert Matshalaga tore into the minister and said ZMDC had failed and was frustrating workers in the mining town.

"The deputy minister has indicated that the ministry, through ZMDC, is working on the take-over. There have been promises after promises," Matshalaga said. "Can the minister at least enlighten this House about when the workers of Shabani Mashaba who have not been paid for at least two years can expect some relief?"

Chimanikire gave a terse answer: "I think my answer to that is very simple, very soon we shall ensure that those workers are paid."

SMM was once a major producer of asbestos in Africa, and had access to markets in the US, the UK, Angola, Nigeria, Zambia, Mozambique, India, Iran, the United Arab Emirates, China and Indonesia, besides other countries.

A Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Mines and Energy that visited the mine was told that mining could only resume if investors brought in capital to get the equipment working again.

Committee leader Edward Chindori-Chininga said he was shocked to discover that there was virtually no mining taking place at the mines. Shabani mine reportedly has an urgent order for 200 000 t of fibre that it cannot fulfil. This order could bring in $105-million.

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