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    Friday, 15 July 2016

    SMM was closed ‘over girlfriends’ - Mujuru



    TAWANDA HOMBA/
    MOLLEN CHAMISA

    MASVINGO
    – Zimbabwe People First (ZPF) leader and former number two to President Mugabe, Joice Mujuru has said major projects in Zimbabwe including Shabanie Mashava Mines (SMM), one of the biggest asbestos operations in the World have closed because of petty and personal differences between some individuals.
    Mujuru said some of the differences that have brought this country to its knees include clashes over girlfriends. She also hinted that the current land grab at Tongaat Hullet led by Shuvai Mahofa was bound to cause another company closure as happened to SMM and Zisco Steel.
    Some 3 000 workers became destitute when they were laid off from the mines in Zvishavane and Mashava. The two urban settlements in Midlands and Masvingo provinces respectively became ghost towns.
    Mujuru made the disclosures when she addressed more than 4 000 party supporters at her first rally at Mucheke Stadium in Masvingo over the weekend.
    She did not disclose the names of the individuals that caused the closures but promised that her priority when she comes to power was to ensure that SMM operations are resuscitated.
    The major shareholder in SMM, Mutumwa Mawere now stays in South Africa after court battles over the mines with Government came to naught.
    "If it were not for personal differences, these two mines would not have closed. These differences should have been resolved without affecting the livelihood of hundreds of families who are now destitute.
    "I promise to reopen these two mines, Cold Storage Commission and many other companies that have been closed come 2018 elections," said Mujuru.
    SMM produced over 75 000 tonnes of high grade asbestos per annum before Government put the asbestos miner under reconstruction in 2004.
    At one time, Shabanie and Gaths' Mines were the world's sixth largest asbestos-producing entities, with a combined annual output exceeding 140 000 tonnes.
    At its peak, the asbestos producing giant would employ 5 000 workers, with over 100 000 families from the six constituencies surrounding them feeding off the mines.
    It is estimated that close to 200 downstream and upstream industries benefitted from the full-scale operations of the mines, then.
    "We heard people are fighting to take over 4 000 hectares of sugarcane fields from Tongaat Hulett which will inevitably leave 2 000 workers jobless and this is being done by people who purport to create employment," said Mujuru.
    The Midlands Province also lost Zisco Steel, one of the biggest iron and steel companies in Africa due to bickering by powerful politicians.
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