Tongaat strike sparks sugar crisis

Walter Mswazie Masvingo Correspondent
SOME shops in Masvingo and Chiredzi are now rationing sugar as they anticipate a shortage of the commodity as sugar manufacturer, Tongaat Hullet workers’ strike enters its third week. Some customers in Masvingo were seen yesterday buying the commodity in bulk with some preferring to connive with shop owners in order to get more from wholesalers.

Reports coming from Chiredzi say large shops that include Pick n Pay Supermarket were on Wednesday also selling a maximum of 8kgs or 4x 2kg per customer. The situation was the same at N Richards wholesale where retail shops were getting limited sugar.

Striking workers have also raised concern on the reports that they would not get their bonus this month given that production of sugar is at standstill, because of the strike.

A senior official from Metro Peech who asked not to be named for professional reasons confirmed that they are now rationing sugar citing non production of the commodity at Tongaat.

“It’s true that we’ve decided to ration sugar because of the ongoing strike that has put production to a halt. We’re giving our clients not more than 40kgs each and we’re likely to reduce the amount if the situation doesn’t improve,” he said.

Zimbabwe Sugarcane Milling Workers Union (ZISMIWU) secretary general Tendeukai Chinooneka said the strike will continue indefinitely given the fact that the employer does not want to compromise and bring workers to the negotiating table.

“We had a meeting with the Minister of State for Provincial Affairs for Masvingo, Shuvai Mahofa, last week where she supported us. She’s behind us and we’re happy. As long as management takes workers for granted, we’ll continue on industrial action,” said Chinooneka. Tongaat corporate affairs manager Adelaide Chikunguru said there is no new development since the workers went to strike three weeks back.

“I’ll issue a statement when there are new developments. There’s nothing new the deadlock continues as workers are still on strike,” said Chikunguru.

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