Africa Chrome Fields retrenches 288 workers

KWEKWE-Africa Chrome Fields (AFC) bankrolled by South African based millionaire Zunaid Moti has retrenched at least 288 of its workers amid indications that operations are dwindling,Zim Morning Post has learnt.

It has been revealed that the workers who are facing the fate of unemployment were served with retrenchment letters on 1 June 14 2019.

The mine is located at Chinyika Ranch in Chirumhanzu-Zibagwe constituency within Midlands province between Kwekwe and Mvuma where businessman and fuel mogul Kudakwashe Tagwirei is a local partner.

“Those who have been retrenched are now serving three  months notice.

“There are no operations at the time as there are no milling plants at all. Uncertainty is hovering over 1000 workers as we do not know what the future holds for us,” said one of our sources speaking on condition that he is not named.

There were at least 1300 workers including 20 women at the mine.   

Workers raised a red flag over poor working conditions at the mine where they are camped in tents since 2014 when operations kicked off.

‘‘Our working conditions have been poor. Our tents are about 50 meters away from the plants and we are affected by dust from the mining plants.

“This is a  health hazard for  majority of the workers who have no medical aid,’ said another worker


According to several workers at the mine, there is widespread ill-treatment of workers where majority of top managers are from South Africa.

‘‘Our salaries   were pegged in bond notes that saw majority of workers earning as little as  RTGS$18 while artisans were getting RTGS$800 .

“Foreigners get their salaries in hard currency, we are getting peanuts,’ added another source .

Living in fear

Zimbabwe Diamonds and Allied Workers Union (ZIDAWU) leader Cosmas Sangaro confirmed that AFC workers have been working under ‘hell’ where bully tactics are being employed  in suspected chrome smuggling syndicate.

Sangaro said although the mine is facing operational challenges there are no  steps being taken to redress the situation.

“Our investigations revealed that those with pending leave days were told they will have them deducted to cover-up for the days they are not working. Those who have exhausted their days will have to keep on guessing the next move. Uncertainty is gripping workers at the mine,” he said.

Some of the workers complained that top managers are untouchable over ill treatment of workers.

Said one of sources:

“If you raise a complaint against ill treatment by top officials, they openly tell you that you can go report where  ever  you want as they are connected politically to ruling Zanu PF top brass. As you understand Tagwirei has ruling party support, we have nowhere to go and report over these abuses.”

Sanguro added that workers have been duped with empty promises and lies by their  masters.

In 2014, Zimbabwe Defence Forces (ZDF) entered into a joint venture with ACF to exploit chrome deposits along the mineral-rich great dyke stretching approximately 60 square kilometers.

ACF was once granted duty-free fuel importation certificate by  Ministry of Transport in 2014 issued through Central Mechanical Equipment Department (CMED under Statutory Instrument 184 of 2014).

Sangaro  told Zim Morning Post that they are preparing a detailed report on AFC mine said there are suspected underhand dealings affecting the mining sector.

“The mine has failed in the extractive mining industry although President Emmerson Mnangagwa has called on for transparency in the mining sector,” he added.

It is suspected that part of chrome ore is exported to South Africa and this  has deprived the country of much-needed foreign currency.

Six plants have been shut down further bringing a bleak future for the workers.

However, it was revealed that trade unionism is not allowed at the mine where trade unions not linked to the ruling party are being barred and not tolerated.

Most workers are victims of unfair treatment at the workplace. Workers committee used to be there but we’re victimized or dismissed on spurious allegations,” he said.

ZIDAWU made recommendations that government must revisit the criteria to issue mining concessions.

“There is a need for orientation and reorientation of investors in mining, especially on working conditions. There must be transparency on issues to do with mining contracts offered including access to the agreements signed,” he concluded.

Tagwirei did not answer his mobile phone and text messages when we tried to get his side of the story in a mine that he is a shareholder.