PM Sir, please help us ex-SAPPI work­ers

Observer on Saturday - - News - Sto­ries by Sicelo Maziya

Former Sappi em­ploy­ees, hav­ing fought unend­ing le­gal bat­tles as well as en­gag­ing tra­di­tional struc­tures for 10 years, have now re­solved to seek the as­sis­tance of Prime Min­is­ter Am­brose Mand­vulo Dlamini. They have also threat­ened to seek in­ter­na­tional as­sis­tance in the event the PM fails to come to their res­cue. The em­ploy­ees, who have been meet­ing at Bhunya where they were em­ployed for years be­fore the clo­sure of the com­pany, have also been kicked out of the premises and barred from hav­ing their meet­ings there. The aging former work­ers said they had sought the as­sis­tance of the Prime Min­is­ter to me­di­ate in a meet­ing with their former em­ployer. The em­ploy­ees said they were look­ing for­ward to brief­ing the new prime min­is­ter about their case, that they al­lege had been ig­nored by his pre­de­ces­sors.

The former em­ploy­ees who are now meet­ing at a se­cluded for­est af­ter be­ing chased, away from the prop­er­ties of Mon­tigny, are ral­ly­ing at each other for the go ahead to meet the Prime Min­is­ter.

They say they have lost hope in get­ting as­sis­tance as they have all the ev­i­dence but claim that the po­lice and Anti-Cor­rup­tion Com­mis­sion (ACC) failed to as­sist them be­cause they feared the cul­prits. The former em­ploy­ees de­clared that they would con­tinue to fight un­til death stops their fight. They re­vealed that many of their fel­low work­ers had died in the process,as some suf­fered from de­pres­sion and oth­ers now suf­fer from from dif­fer­ent ail­ments, that are re­lated to the al­leged loot­ing of their monies by in­di­vid­u­als they did not dis­close. The work­ers fur­ther dis­closed that for years, they had lost con­fi­dence on all the rel­e­vant struc­tures in their bid to have their com­pen­sa­tion pro­cessed. The former em­ploy­ees said they had sought au­di­ence with Prime Min­is­ter Dlamini in or­der to ask him to as­sist them in their case be­cause they be­lieve he has the acu­men to do so.

The former em­ploy­ees fur­ther hinted that they were look­ing at pursuing other av­enues to get SAPPI to the set­tle­ment ta­ble and once they start do­ing so, the com­pany will be forced to the ta­ble.

They said they hoped the Prime Min­is­ter would be of as­sis­tance be­fore they take the in­ter­na­tional route. The former work­ers re­vealed that each time the mat­ter reached con­clu­sion, the of­fi­cers han­dling their case were of­ten pro­moted or re­de­ployed and they were forced to start all over again, pre­sent­ing one and the same thing, and this has been go­ing on for the past nine years.

Meet­ings

Last year and early this year, their meet­ings un­der the same, tree were be­com­ing tense as rangers would also at­tend with­out in­vi­ta­tion and bring in record­ing equip­ment.

The rep­re­sen­ta­tives of the former work­ers re­it­er­ated that gov­ern­ment must as­sist them in bring­ing Sappi to the round ta­ble.

The pre­vi­ous gov­ern­ment, led by Dr Sibu­siso Dlamini, hav­ing failed to con­vene the said meet­ing with Sappi, the work­ers re­solved to present their mat­ter to tra­di­tional au­thor­i­ties at Ludzidzini Royal Res­i­dence, where a re­port was ex­pected on Oc­to­ber 10, 2017 but, to date, noth­ing has ma­te­ri­alised, they al­leged.

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