By Tichaona Sibanda
SW Radio Africa
4 August 2014
National Railways of Zimbabwe employees on Saturday began a wave of demonstrations around the country to draw attention to their unpaid wages in the last ten months.
On Saturday workers staged protests in Bulawayo, Gweru and Mutare while in Harare police tore up their placards and confiscated banners from the NRZ workers.
Our Bulawayo correspondent Lionel Saungweme told us that despite the police blocking the street demonstrations, workers in the city staged a protest within the perimeter of the premises.
The NRZ workers union has also lodged an application with the High court challenging the police action to ban them from staging street protests. Saungweme said it appears the workers have lost patience following numerous promises from the government that they would get their money.
‘The workers have vowed to carry out more protests demanding their wages. All along they’ve been reluctant to stage demos but at one point early this year, their wives took to the streets to demonstrate on behalf of their husbands,’ Saungweme said.
The Southern Eye newspaper reported recently that at its peak in 1998, the NRZ used to ferry goods in excess of 18 million tonnes, but that has gone down to 3.7 million tonnes.
$2 billion is required for the rehabilitation of the railway lines in the country over a 10-year period, according to the Transport and Infrastructural Development Minister Obert Mpofu. The minister said the parastatal intended to lay off 6,000 workers. NRZ has failed to pay packages to workers who have been laid off and is currently failing to pay salaries.