via Van Hoogstraten in Hwange coal mine bid | SW Radio Africa by Tichaona Sibanda on Friday, October 25, 2013
Controversial British businessman Nicholas van Hoogstraten has made a takeover bid for the struggling Hwange Colliery Company Limited.
Van Hoogstraten and his family already have a 30 percent shareholding in the company, but the multi-millionaire businessman tabled a $50 million bailout package and has reportedly demanded a raft of reforms which will give him control over management of the company.
Government is the single largest shareholder in Hwange. The board chairman of Hwange, Farai Mutamangira, said he is still studying the offer.
The weekly Financial Gazette reported on Thursday that the company is operating against a debt of $160 million and owes its workers $14 million.
The workers have not been paid for six months now. Three weeks ago, over 100 wives of the colliery workers were brutalized by police, leaving several of them injured in running battles, when they staged a peaceful demonstration against the management.
In August its 3,000 strong workforce downed tools complaining at the non-payment of their salaries.
A worker at the colliery told SW Radio Africa on Friday that while the workforce is back at work, negotiations over their salaries were ongoing. Simelebona Nyoni, the district chairman of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions in Hwange, also confirmed that the workers had gone back to work but are reportedly on a go slow.
‘We have tried to mediate in the negotiations between the workers and management because the ripple effects of the stalemate affect the whole of the Hwange town and the surrounding communities,’ Nyoni said.
Nyoni added that of major concern to the company is its inability to operate at full capacity when other rival coal mining companies in Hwange were operating at full capacity and doing very well. Hwange Colliery has been plagued by reports of corruption and chronic mismanagement for years.