ZCTU blames employer, govt for Esigodini fire which killed 10 workers


By Own Correspondent

THE Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) says the employer and the government must be held accountable over the deaths of 10 workers who died while trying to put out a veld fire at a farm in Esigodini recently.

The remarks come shortly after 10 people were confirmed dead and at least five others being treated for smoke inhalation at a farm in Esigodini, Matabeleland South in mid-October 2022.

Police were called to a farm known as Lot 43 of Essexvale, near Falcon College, after reports of multiple people succumbing to an out-of-control veld fire.

When the smoke cleared, 10 bodies – most of them farm workers – were recovered. Five others who took part in efforts to contain the blaze survived and were taken to hospital as a precaution.

But in a statement over the incident, ZCTU secretary general, Japhet Moyo reiterated that while the labour fraternity mourns the workers who perished in the unfortunate incident, there is need to make it clear that the circumstances that led to the deaths are worrisome.

“We believe the deaths were as a result of negligence on the part of both the employer and to some extent, the government.

“It is very unfortunate that the deaths occurred soon after workers around the world commemorated the World Day for Decent Work. There are serious deficiencies in civil protection measures and preparedness by the government and local authorities that have caused unnecessary deaths.

“The deaths would have been avoided if the civil protection unit was prepared to deal with perennial veld fires that occur around the country during this time of the year,” he said.

He criticised the employers saying they are equally guilty of failing to create and maintain fire guards, availing adequate personal protective clothing and occupational safety and health education particularly on fire fighting.

“The ZCTU is of the firm belief that the country must not lose workers to such avoidable accidents. We urge the government and employers to put in place sufficient measures to curb such occurrences in future.

“We call upon relevant bodies like the Environmental Management Authority and the Civil Protection Unit to genuinely monitor and enforce compliance on safety measures to avoid a recurrence of such unfortunate accidents,” added Moyo.

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