Zim's sex-ban wives step up fight for husbands' pay
First they denied sex to their spouses, now the group of furious women have vowed to take their protest to Victoria Falls
Hwange, a mining town 85km south of Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe's prime resort area, has become a flashpoint for determined, angry and hungry women.
The focus of their anger is the Hwange Colliery Company (HCCL), where their husbands have not been paid their salaries in full since 2014.
The firm has a workforce of 3,000.
The announcement by managing director Thomas Makore in 2016 that he had engaged players in the South African market as a magic bullet for HCCL’s woes has only angered them further.
This is not the first time the women, who are camped at the company premises have taken matters into their own hands.When the men failed to make headway through their union, their wives formed an association and put their husbands on sex bans. They hoped sexual frustration would force them to demand what is due to them.
That didn’t work, but their resolve is still very much alive, and they have been protesting at the company’s headquarters for more than 30 days.
“We are not going anywhere until all arrears for workers are paid in full,” said one of the women, Sitheni Mulenga.
Some mineworkers have had $70 (R800) deposited into their bank accounts, but the majority received nothing.
The lowest-paid worker earns $200 (R2,285).
The money was paid in an attempt to calm the women’s tempers ahead of a meeting with Home Affairs Minister Obert Mpofu, whom they also told off and demanded an audience with President Emmerson Mnangagwa.“A few got small monies and on Sunday Makore called us for a meeting to tell us that they have no capacity to pay anyone until July this year. We won’t accept that,” said Thokozile Ncube, the women’s representative.
“Rains pound us and the way we are living now exposes us to diseases. Some of us are camping with young children. We will go as far as staging demonstrations at Victoria Falls for tourists and the world to see our plight,” added Ncube.
Using branches and stones, the women blocked management from entering the premises last week.
“We see them driving fancy cars to work while our husbands are failing to provide for us, yet they report for work every day,” said Mulenga.
Fearing for their lives, management filed an urgent court application to have the women expelled from the premises after they overpowered company security.
“They forced their way through the gate to the HCCL and all efforts by the applicant’s security personnel to prevent the invasion failed as the demonstrators outnumbered them,” the court application reads.
The application was rejected by the court.
Now the women have called for Makore and human resources manager Ray Munangwa to be investigated over allegations of corruption.
With their husbands failing to provide, some of the women claim to have resorted to prostitution.
“Our children have to eat and go to school. What option other than prostitution do we have?” said one.
The Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions said the wives were picketing, which is legal under the Labour Act.