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There is gross exploitation of workers at African Chrome Fields, the employees are earning a slavery salary. Since the cost of living went up, the mine has not made any cost of living adjustment. From 2016 to date only 6% salary adjustment had been given which was not even given to all the workers. Recently NEC awarded an 80% salary increment effective January however the mine has since applied for an exemption not to implement the increase. The workers are living a miserable life, with many even failing to raise money for transport to come to work and resultantly getting terminated.
. Majority are resorting to selling assets accrued whilst working elsewhere before joining ACF as a means to survive. The least worker earning around RTG 250. With deductions like loan repayment, rentals many are left with nothing. The sad reality is that from the inception of the mine, majority of employees never got paid the NEC minimums, as the mine initially from 2016 offered rates way below the NEC minimum as the management claimed that they had sort an exemption from NEC which saw some artisans earning $350 dollars bond which was less than half the NEC minimum for that position. Some black management employees earn as little as RTG 855. Unlike most mines ACF is not paying any component of the salary in USD, its only RTGs, this despite that ACF is getting preferential treatment in terms of forex retention, whilst other mines in similar line are getting 50% ACF is getting 75%.
The mine doesn’t pay any other benefit, no medicals, no pension, no night shift allowance, payment of overtime is even not guaranteed. RacismHowever, in this sea of poverty the mine has got more than 40 expatriate whites who are unjustifiably highly remunerated in forex with majority of them earning more than USD15 000 per month. Even for the same post a white man earned 7-10 times more than the local guy when the rate was 1:1. Now with the bank rate at above 4, it means the inequality per same post is around 40 times. Just to highlight the salary discrepancy, at one time the salary bill for the 40 or so expatriates was around USD 500 000 while the wage bill for the 1300 locals was around 650 000 bond notes. With the new bank rate, it means 40 expatriates are earning equivalent of above 2million RTGs whereas the 1300 locals are earning only RTG 650 000. More than three quarters of the expatriate don’t have the work permits and are just working illegally as visitors, moreover most of them don’t have any requisite qualifications, most are just retired soldiers and despite that they occupy all the key positions with no local person in the top 6 management, 4 General Managers and 2 COO/CEO.
Down the hierarchy there are about 10 or so managers and the only local person with a title of a manager at the mine is the Engineering manager, but he doesn’t have any say, in actual fact it’s the whites below him on hierarchy who run the department and they earn more than him. He is treated like a nonentity only used here and there when it saves their own oppressive agenda. Jobs that need locals like Mine Manager and his alternate designate, HR Manager and Personnel Manager are all occupied by expatriates and they violate the local laws with impunity. These expatriates treat locals worse than dogs. They are hard hearted, they are racist to the core. Why the owner entrusted his company in the hands of these expatriates most of whom are retired and old persons is still a mystery. Chrome processing is one of the simplest, to mine and process which the locals can ably do. At the platinum mines where the mining and processing is more complicated, you rarely find any expatriate but the mines are being run to world class standard and here at ACF we have 40 expatriates running the mine in the worst way one can imagine.
Appalling Living Conditions for Locals Besides the inequitable salaries the whites also enjoy free air tickets to SA some on a weekly basis. The whites also enjoy better accommodation by far, in fact they built flamboyant accommodation, so called “little England” for themselves and some are living in caravans bought for around USD35 000 each. On the other hand, locals are staying in squalid conditions, some living as many as 8 employees in a single makeshift room with a floor space of 6 square meters even artisans are not spared, their rank is ignored and live in the same crowded rooms with general employees. Even some black management workers live in those overcrowded conditions with juniors. That overcrowded room is used as both a kitchen and bedroom. A number of employees are living in overcrowded and torn tents, some are having to construct their own make shift shacks. The housing units are infested with lice/mice, marauding rats and snake killings occur on a weekly basis in these accommodations.
The housing units are mostly located too close to plants and mining haul roads exposing employees to unacceptable dust. The working conditions are also very dangerous with workers forced to work without protective clothing or with torn protective clothing, workers are even resorting to sharing work clothes like gumboots or having to buy for themselves. At one time there were three successive deaths in a space of two months, which many suspected their illnesses had something to do with living and working conditions at the mine. To highlight the plight of locals, around the last quarter of last year, 2018, the mine had just above 1300 employees and currently it has just above 1000 employees, 300 or even more, considering some were leaving and being replaced, employees were forced out by difficult conditions at the mine. Only in the past year, mining department lost 6 employees from Superintendent level and process department lost 7 for the same level.
The mode of transport is an open TATA truck with employees packed like sacks and exposed to highly dust environment when being taken to workstations and going for Off. The expatriates are carried to Harare for the airport in a Fortuner, on a daily basis, sometimes two vehicles go as some top managers don’t want to share the Fortuner with their colleagues at lower levels. On the other side the black management employees regardless of level have to use the infamous TATA truck. The mine had employed mostly degreed mining and plant Superintendents and were made to stay in shacks infested with rats and lice, with leaking roofs this despite being them being that senior. If you are qualified you are any enemy of these expatriates, they will make sure you leave, they just want to remain with their stooges, and as a result they end appointing employees without the requisite qualifications and competences to positions.Illegal Forex Dealings and Looting from the company by top management.
The owner of the mine had invested a lot of mine and had the mine been run by people with the mine at heart, it could have been the most wonderful investment in this decade. However, the owner got it wrong by employing these expatriates who don’t have his company at heart let alone Zimbabwe. The top management only cares about itself and their fellow white expatriates, they are competing amongst themselves to enrich themselves, they are milking the company dry, they are openly defrauding the company. There are perpetual fights between the top management, fights which are killing the mine. The top management including the COO openly engages in illegal forex black market activities, they are well known in Kwekwe, where they even send drivers to change money on the black market. The mine is getting a 75% retention in forex and are abusing it, it looks their money is not following the statutory way.
Each top manager keeps his forex bag which they change two RTGs on the black market for the mine’s petty cash and to pay for food and some spare parts. If the owner of the mine continues not to take heed about the misconduct of his top management, then certainly the mine is going to sink forever, now there is talk of a massive retrenchment. Around 80% of machinery is down, a lot of obsolete and unnecessary equipment was bought as a way to milk out the company and millions worth of materials is lying idle. The expatriates always make sure no local has access to the company owner when he comes to the mine. They are now even restricting him to end his visit in Harare and doesn’t come to the mine so that they keep him in the dark about their running down of the mine. Whilst I am not a financial expert, common sense tells me my country is being financial prejudiced, these illegal expatriates are not paying taxes, they are taking away the forex in terms of their hefty forex pay. More over even those few with permits grossly under declared their salaries to as little as 30 000 Rands/month
Why is that no action is being taken to redress the ACF situationThe mine has brought more harm than good, the only benefiting people are the expatriates, local workers are being rendered poorer, the locals are crying as the mining activities are causing serious destruction to their land The numerous trucks carrying the chrome to SA destroy the roads which the mine never bothers to repair making the road unusable by small cars. Had it not been for Zimasco which occasionally repairs the Kwekwe-Mvuma road, it could be impassible by now. The mine is not paying any levies to the RDC. The mine is also getting 100% duty free fuel, its vehicles and machinery are all SA registered. Projects which in their nature are very damaging to the environment require that gains accrue to the communities, local workers and the country and its very disturbing when non are benefiting except the expatriates. As it is, it’s actually the country subsidizing, the mine for the benefit of the few illegal expatriates’ whites, whilst locals are increasing in poverty and the environment is being destroyed.But one wonders why is that no one is hearing the distress call at ACF. Where are these institutions,Immigration, ZIMRA, Inspector of Mines, Parliamentary portfolio on Mining, Ministry of labor, MP, Zibagwe; Human rights and Minister of mines.
What I have raised is just a tip of the iceberg, what is happening is just pure slavery and a recolonization. The local MP was given a written submission of the problems at ACF, more than 6months ago and so far, he has not yet visited the mine. The former MP for the area now the first lady at least during her tenure as MP visited the mine and took the expatriate white management to task however nothing much changed as these rogue racist expatriates, soon afterwards quickly changed to their default setting. This white management quickly trashes the country, its people, its Gvt, its economy and its laws at the slightest opportunity. However, when they want to silence any one advocating for better working conditions, they are quick to ask anybody “do you know who owns this company”. The ACF Management, it seems is hell bent on abusing the friendship between the company owner and the government for their racist agenda and self-enrichment.
I do wish appropriate action will be taken to redress the situation by anyone who wants to rectify this tragedy unfolding at ACF, and salvage the little that is left. I am appealing to everyone, institutions and everyone in their individual capacity who against this exploitation of Zimbabwe citizens in their own land. Let the company be run by locals and maybe just leave one or two expatriates if the owner feels he can not entirely trust the locals to run his company not for the whites to bring their whole generations yet locals are suffering (. By worker)
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photo-Business Daily news-African Chrome Fields