‘We are not benefitting from our mineral resources’

Mining communities have called on the government to ensure that mining companies channel part of their proceeds to the development of surrounding communities.

Making their presentations during the Zimbabwe Alternative Mining Indaba in Bulawayo, Wednesday, representatives from these communities said local people are not benefitting from natural resources extracted from their areas. 

The Indaba is running under the theme “Sustainability for all: Building a legacy of citizen action for equitable and just natural resource governance in Zimbabwe.”

Rumbidzai Magurupira from Hwange reiterated that Hwange Colliery Company (HCC), although it sells coal in foreign currency, workers are paid paltry salaries pegged in local currency with some receiving as little as ZW$150.

She said HCC has not been giving back to the community any of its proceeds yet the people are in need of water, sanitation and health facilities. 

“The health of Hwange community is in danger as there is no water and sanitation facilities. People walk for about 5km to access water. There’s only one hospital which serves only the workers. When local people go there to seek medical attention they are charged high prices,” said Magurupira. 

Gladys Mafunga from Marange implored the ministry of mines to set up one-stop shop for artisanal miners to register as they are currently forced to travel to Harare.  

She further chided the ministry for allowing foreign companies to be granted mining powers without adhering to the laws and policies. 

“A Belarus company has already settled in our community and is already mining. They never held any consultative meetings with the stakeholders. Such conduct makes it difficult for us to hold these companies accountable when they fail to develop our communities because we wouldn’t have discussed anything with them,” she said. 

Solomon Bvunze from Mutoko said there was lack of clarity and consistency in adhering to laws that affect mining communities. 

Bvunze said, “Chinese people, for example, send local people ahead of them evading consultative meetings with stakeholders. They only surface when business commences.”

He added that the Environmental Management Authority (EMA) must ensure pits are covered because school children have been falling into the uncovered pits.

Another miner from Gwanda urged Fidelity Printers to pay miners 100% in foreign currency.

He said the main challenge they face in Gwanda is acquiring fuel as it is mainly sold in foreign currency.

“In Gwanda, fuel providers decline payments in swipe or RTGS demanding forex. Fuel is a necessity lately especially with the outrageous power cuts affecting the country. We thus ask the ministry to at least intervene so that we may be paid in foreign currency and be able to access the services we require,” he said.

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