By Alex Bell
12 February 2013
A High Court judge has ordered ZANU PF officials who took over the Renco Mine in Masvingo, to immediately stop interfering with operations there.
The RioZim run mine has been the site of a labour dispute for several weeks, a dispute that turned political when ZANU PF MP Irvine Dzingirai took over as the manager. He had threatened staff that they had to work under him or face dismissal. He also threatened RioZim directors.
This was revealed by RioZim in a statement, which also implicated Tourism Minister Walter Mzembi as the instigator of the ZANU PF take over. The mining firm approached the High Court in a bid to secure their rights to their mine, but operations at the mine ground to a halt when the court last week reserved judgement on the matter.
High Court Judge Justice Hlekani Mwayera has now granted an interim ruling in the case, saying the ZANU PF officials had ‘unlawfully’ taken over management of the mine.
The ZANU PF officials, who were represented by lawyer Jonathan Samukange, had opposed the RioZim application, arguing that they had no desire to take over the mine. Mzembi has insisted he was only interfering as the area’s legislator, after concerned workers lobbied him to get involved in the labour dispute at the mine.
He also said the allegations against him were intended to ‘insult’ him, ZANU PF, the government and the people in his constituency.
The Renco situation has shone an unwelcome spotlight on Mzembi, who is trying to save face ahead of the UN tourism conference set to take place at Victoria Falls in August. The UN Tourism Secretariat recently questioned Mzembi about the Renco situation, resulting in him lashing out in anger at RioZim.
It is now being speculated that the court decision this week is part of efforts to save the still in doubt August tourism meeting, by ‘normalising’ the situation.