LAWYERS representing scores of workers and their families who were recently evicted from Bindura-based Ran Mine were last week making frantic efforts to secure their return.
Ran Mine Private Limited, a gold asset that has been at the centre of a protracted dispute between Zimbabwean investors, lurched into fresh controversy after evicting the former workers saying they were retrenched and paid their packages about 20 years ago.
Lawyers estimated that 500 people were affected by the eviction.
Last month, new investors for the operation secured a High Court order to evict the workers.
In an interview, the workers’ lawyer Obey Shava of the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights said there was an appeal that was pending at the High Court before authorities moved in to execute the order.
“Before the granting of eviction order by the High Court, we made an appeal to the High Court and is still pending,” Shava said.
“We are still pursuing it, which is the status of the matter. At the moment we are clueless if I am to tell the truth,” he said.
“We are trying to appeal to organisations and the public who can possibly assist but we haven’t found any relief so far since the eviction process took place,” he added.
There has been a wrangle over asset ownership since Blackgate Investments, led by businesswoman Angeline Munyeza, also claimed ownership of the rich goldfield.
Fighting over the asset reached tipping point late last year when G&P Industries said it was pressing ahead to extract its first bullion at the mine in 22 years.
Blackgate warned that sinking shafts at the operation was illegal until government made a determination over ownership of the mine, which hit headlines in 2020, when 30 artisanal miners perished in flooded shafts.
Court documents indicate that on March 31, Munyeza escalated her battle to Chief Justice Luke Malaba, seeking his urgent intervention.
She has previously written to President Emmerson Mnangagwa, the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission and the Ministry of Mines and Mining Development seeking resolution of the dispute.
The businesswoman has produced evidence that she also holds titles to the mine.
But around the time she approached the Chief Justice, her rivals were moving to evict former workers out of the mine compound.
Rights groups and the ruling Zanu PF party estimates show that up to 500 families have been affected by the evictions, although the court case lists 18 representatives of the former workers.
“Despite demand, it is alleged the 18 defendants refused to vacate the mine houses”, High Court papers said.
“The defendants (former workers) failed to discharge the onus upon them to show an entitlement to continue holding on to the houses”, the court papers added.
“The defendants and all persons claiming occupation through them and all other persons in use, possession and control of any part of the Ran Mine compound without the consent of Ran Mine shall forthwith vacate the compound,” the High Court ruled.
“Failing vacation, the Sheriff, with the assistance of the Zimbabwe Republic Police, if necessary, is authorised to eject the defendants and all persons claiming occupation through them and all other persons in use, possession and control of any part of the Ran Mine compound without consent of the plaintiff” the ruling said. – (Newsday)