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Zimbabwe Parliament Sets Probe of Troubled Shabanie Asbestos Mines

  • Gibbs Dube

Parliamentary mines committee member Moses Mare said workers have not been paid in more than a year although managers receive hefty salaries while the mining operation seized several years ago grinds to a halt.

Zimbabwe parliamentary sources said Afaras Gwaradzimba, curator of Shabanie Mashaba Mines, control of which was seized from businessman Mutumwa Mawere several years ago, has been summoned to testify before the Committee on Mines following reports of irregularities in the operation of the asbestos business.

Committee member Moses Mare said Shabanie workers have not been paid in more than a year though managers continue to receive hefty salaries as the mining operation grinds to a halt.

Mare said the enterprise is close to collapse due to lack of capital as banks and investors have over the years shunned the operation on grounds that it was forcibly seized from a Zimbabwean citizen.

Reports said some of the mine shafts have been flooded with water, submerging machinery worth billions.

The Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority recently switched off power to Shabanie Mashaba Mines because it had failed to pay electricity bills for two years.

Masimba Kuchera, chairman of the Zimbabwe Coalition on Debt and Development, said the committee should urge prosecution of anyone suspected of pilfering funds and stripping assets at Shabanie Mashaba Mines.

“Our expectations are that some people will pay for causing the collapse of one of the biggest mining firms in Southern Africa,” said Kuchera.

Shabanie posted a loss of US$18.6 million last year. It is said to have reserves enough for 17 years production.

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