THE Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation (ZMDC)-owned Sabi Gold Mine in Zvishavane has been shut down throwing about 500 workers out of work.
The closure came a week after the Messenger of Court attached Sabi Mine property over millions of dollars in unpaid debts.
Workers’ representatives were informed of the closure which was attributed to financial constraints following a meeting attended by ZMDC general manager, human resources and public relations managers last week.
Sabi Mine workers’ committee chairperson David Chiroirombo said senior ZMDC management had advised them to inform employees that the mine could no longer run until an investor came to their rescue.
“The management from Harare informed us that we were heading for shutdown and there was no need for workers to continue coming to work until an investor had been obtained,” Chiroirombo said.
Chiroirombo said the management indicated the mine was no longer able to run smoothly and debts had escalated although the mine was still productive.
“It is surprising that the top officials highlighted the escalation of debts and financial crises as the major reason for the shutdown yet the mine is sitting on large gold ore waiting to be extracted,” he said.
A few weeks ago, a mine official said workers would be sent on forced unpaid leave until ZMDC secured an investor.
“There shall be a number of workers who will remain for essential services and the rest are going for unpaid leave until an investor arrives from the four potentially lined up,” the official who spoke on condition of anonymity, said.
Associated Mine Workers of Zimbabwe Sabi chapter chairperson Mariko Mahaso said there would be a works council meeting where management and workers are going to agree on packages since the mine had been producing before the latest shutdown.
“We will wait for a council meeting where we will lodge our plight as workers. The mine has to give us all our outstanding salaries and packages before they think of laying us off,” Mahaso said.
“There are legal statutes that prohibit them from closing the mine while it is still producing and without paying workers their dues.”
Sabi Mine shutdown raises ZMDC’s number of closed mines to three in Zvishavane after asbestos and emerald—rich mines Shabanie and Sandawana mines respectively.