Compiled by Eunica Pabwaungana of Shurugwi Community Development Trust (SCDT)
Whenever there is something good ahead problems, disappointments and obstructions arise to destroy the hope, so to overcome this joining of hands will be the only key to resolve conflicts among people so as to meet targets and goals .Therefore the Provincial Alternative Mining Indaba ( PAMI)was one of the reason why the Great dyke stakeholders met on Friday the 21st of August 2020 in Gweru at Suburban ( Twin peaks) lodge .This was meant for important discussions to solve the emerging covid-19 challenges and conflicts. It was a day indaba hosted by Zimbabwe Environmental Law Association (ZELA) in partnership with the Zimbabwe Coalition on Dept and Development (ZIMCODD) and Zimbabwe Council of Churches (ZCC). Stakeholders in attendance included, Members of Parliament of both Shurugwi North and South constituency , District Administrators (DA) , Chief Executive Officers ( CEOs )from both Runde Rural District Council ( RRDC) and Tongogara Rural District Council ( TRDC), Environmental Management Agents ( EMA) , Community monitors , School Development Committees (SDC), Small Scale Miners ( ASM )Chiefs and District Health Officials ( DHO).
The Indaba ran under the theme: ” The impacts of Covid _19 on the extractive sector, Theological reflections on inequalities: Understanding the role of natural resources in fostering development for all “. Before the indaba began, a Health official from Shurugwi warned people to keep on following health restrictions to fight the Covid -19 pandemic. A member from ZCC, Pastor Nyoni from Zvishavane said that people of Great dyke should be proud of these resources and know the importance of sharing the benefits from natural resources on developments , since they are just gifts from God , Every citizen should avoid greediness which fuels inequality.A community monitor from SCDT Pabwaungana shared on the challenges in mining activities in the Covid-19 era to raise awareness on the situation on the ground. Pabwaungana highlighted that the covid -19 pandemic is causing much effects in mining activities such as;
*Movement restrictions challenges-Before the pandemic people were used to travel freely to their mining areas and sites but now travelling needs a letter which is not easy to get it.
* No transport to mining places and if available it is paid in US$ or equivalent.
* Mining equipment’s used in mining need to be imported but due to lockdown measures it’s not accessible.
* Most families in the Great Dyke rely on miming and farming activities due to poor rains from the previous year, mining has become the only alternative
*Prices of basic food commodities have become too high due to the demand and availability of cash from Artisanal Miners to an extent unbearably for most families.
* No money to pay for private teachers hence children have been engaged in mining activities and early marriages for female children
* Diversification Projects such as farming which are funded by mining proceeds are no longer operating well
*Due to desperation some people are selling their immovable properties to earn a living
* It is no longer safe at mining places since washing of hands, wearing of face masks and social distance is not fully practiced
*Miners are complaining about suffocation while working underground hence they do not use masks. Since everyone is busy looking for money there is no order.
SDC chairperson from Shurugwi Mr Chimhini mentioned that he is much worried about the rate of
a) Child marriages in the community
b) Young boys who are concentrating on gold panning for survival instead of focusing on their studies