RIOZIM single majority shareholder Harpal Randhawa recently visited disgruntled workers at the group’s beleaguered Masvingo gold producer, Renco Mine, to address mounting labour grievances that are threatening operations, amid indications that a further fallout between the shareholder and management is looming, businessdigest can reveal.
Report by Taurai Mangudhla
Sources say Randhawa was accompanied by MD Ashton Ndlovu, who had made a similar visit to the mine a week earlier.
In a move seen to further alienate Renco management, Randhawa is said to have publicly professed ignorance over the state of affairs at the mine and the workers’ concerns, blaming Renco management for misinforming him and setting the stage for a clash with the mine’s line management.
“He said Renco management were not telling him the truth and he promised to quickly resolve the problems ahead of the April 4 meeting which Ndlovu had scheduled with workers and community representatives,” said a source who requested not to be named.
“They are now also pleading with us to ask (Masvingo South legislator and Tourism minister Walter) Mzembi for forgiveness on their behalf because they want him to help in the negotiations,” the source added.
Newly-appointed workers’ committee chairperson Vincent Matiza confirmed the visit, saying workers were now confident of a positive outcome given that the matter was getting attention at the highest level.
Traditional leaders joined Matiza in pushing for better working conditions at Renco mine, threatening to seize the mine if their expectations are not met.
“This is our land and these are our children who work here so we can’t let someone exploit our wealth and treat us unfairly,” said headman Chiwawa in his solidarity message. “It’s no secret that other areas are getting community share ownership trusts, but nothing has materialised here in Masvingo. Other mining companies are constructing roads or building schools, but Renco Mine is doing nothing here and this angers us.”
However, Randhawa risks a major backlash from Renco management, whom he attacked in his address.
Informed sources close to unfolding developments at Renco say management has been accusing Randhawa of not sufficiently meeting their expectations ever since he took over control of struggling parent company Rio Zim.