GWANDA – At least 183 workers at the Vubachikwe gold mine have been arrested for allegedly protesting over unpaid wages at the mine.
Vubachikwe is located in Matabeleland South, 8 km northwest of the provincial capital Gwanda.
The protesters, also accused of destroying mining properties, say they have gone two months without being paid.
Posting to Twitter on Wednesday, the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) said the minors were charged with public violence.
“From the Gwanda urban police station, our lawyers confirm that the number of mine employees arrested is 183, including 4 women and 179 men.
“The employees were arrested today for allegedly taking part in a protest against their employer for not paying their wages for the past two months.
“Our lawyers Jabulani Mhlanga and Prisca Dube have been advised by @Police Zimbabwe that mine workers will be charged with public violence.
“They are accused of failing to comply with the conditions set for the authorized demonstration,” ZLHR said.
Police could not be easily reached for comment while the phones of Vubachikwe public relations officer Robert Mukondiwa also went unanswered.
On Monday, police rejected a request by some miners’ wives represented by Sharon Kanjena and Nomsa Dube to protest on behalf of their husbands against unpaid wages.
“Notification to organize a demonstration of the wives of the workers of the Vubachikwe mine on November 8th. I refer to your letter in connection with the above subject.
“Please note that the office recognizes your intention to organize your protest against the management of the mine due to unpaid wages.
“This office has noted with concern that as wives of the Vubachikwe mine, you want to demonstrate against the management of the mine on behalf of your husbands who work at the mine.
“You are not employees of the mine or members of any miner, according to chapter 28:01 of the Labor Act, so you cannot demonstrate against the management of the mine since you are not employed by the management of the mine”, reads a policeman from Gwanda.
In 2017, miners at the Vubachikwe mine shot down their tools citing unpaid payments while pushing for better working conditions.
In April this year, 163 workers reportedly resigned following an investigation into a plan to systematically plunder gold.