February 27 2018
What initially started as a pep talk among spouses and widows of Hwange Colliery Company over non-payment of salaries of their husbands has shaken the coal mining giant prompting it to seek relief through the courts. Not only did the women triumph over the company but they have outpaced their husbands, who have slavishly toiled for five years without remuneration.
In a case similar to that of shepherd boy David against the seemingly indomitable Goliath, spouses of the coal mining company, like David who slew Goliath with using a string shot, have used their collective power and resilience. The majority of them have no or little education, barely spoke the queen’s language let alone understand the legal jargon.
Yet ever since they took up the issue of non-payment of salaries to their bossom, they have been scoring one victory after another. They shook the company to its core forcing it to pay $200 twice for the month of February alone, something which their husbands have failed to do in five years.
Women organizing to confront the company has become a force to reckon with. They have contended with the company such that it yielded not only to make payments but to eventually seek intervention of the courts.
Starting with court application that was scheduled for hearing on the 15th of February 2017 at Bulawayo High Court and then finally in Harare at High Court on the 27th of February 2018, the women did not whimper. They held on to their convictions proving that they have become hardened withering whatever blows the company threw at them.
Justice Makoni ruling on Tuesday in which the coal mining giant lost its bid to put the case on urgent court business has emboldened the women. The women were even awarded costs.
With this victory the women have displayed the power of women building a collective agency. Their resolve give credence to the adage, hell hearth no fury like a woman enraged; there are no boundaries for women who are determined to achieve their goal. In this case the women of Hwange despite not being direct employees of the company, pushed their way through as affected family members.
Women and Law in Sothern Africa (WLSA) Zimbabwe in keeping to its mantra making the law work for women, are proud to have been in solidarity with the Hwange heroines. As an organization we are running a programme on gender justice and equality in which specific project on gender and extractives is being conducted around Zimbabwe.
Hwange is one of the project sites, in which some of the women demonstrating have been trained by WLSA and Centre for Natural Resource Governance (CNRG) on the gender impacts of extractives and the legal framework of natural resources in Zimbabwe.
The Hwange women have decided to use the law to their advantage and amplify their voices so as to be heard. As WLSA Zimbabwe we will continue providing legal support until the case reach its logical conclusion.
We believe it is through application of the law that women will be able to challenge gender inequalities and discriminatory socio-cultural practices.
Women and Law in Southern Africa Zimbabwe
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