Podcast: Artisanal Mining A Blessing and A Curse
On the 23 April 2018 communities in the diamond mining areas of Marange staged peaceful demonstrations protesting the violation of their rights to free movement as well as the violent attacks on community members by mine security.This takes place in a context in which poverty is forcing many in the area to engage in informal mining/” illegal mining” as a source of income.In direct response to the community protest, as well as the failure of the mine and government to stop or even reduce the problem of “illegal” mining, the ZCDC convened a security conference on the 1st June in Mutare.
Where will this struggle for freedom of movement, safety and access to economic survival on land which is their own , go?
Community activists in the Marange area have been following this issue. Below are their posts which talk about the causes of “illegal” mining, the terrifying security violence, the problems this type of mining has for the environment and community, community protest against security violence, proposals for the recognition of “illegal mining” as small scale artisanal mining, meetings, conferences and workshops on mining.
- Unemployment and Poverty drives workers into breaking the law to survive.
Billy Matambo 23/11/17
Unemployed ex-miners are not able to find new work. Many are engaging in illegal gold panning along the Mutare River near Arda Transau. To do their work they have to play cat and mouse with the law enforcement officers.After the closure of various mines in Chiadzwa , 2000 workers were retrenched. The ex-workers now find life so hard. They have failed to get thousands of dollars owed to them from the mining companies who retrenched them. They are also not getting the jobs they were promised in the restructured ZCDC. Their families are exposed to poverty and starvation. As if not this is not enough the houses they were given are already collapsing because of poor material. They fear for their lives in the event of heavy rains.
“Some of us have resorted to selling food items and other stuff which we smuggle from the neighbouring Mozambique which also put us at risk with ZIMRA officers” said a former worker.
Mrs Myness Matanda a relocated resident said their participating as voters in elections will became a thing of the past since registration requires proof of residence which is a letter from a local leaders or water bill statement .She said they don’t have the water bills since they are failing to pay and the council closed their taps and the community are getting unsafe water from Odzi River. The chance to exercise their right to vote in the upcoming 2018 election is doomed.
- Community live in fear of ZCDC Rottweilers
Billy Matambo 23/11/17
Life in Chiadzwa diamond fields has just became unbearable as a result of gross human rights violations. In Chiadzwa at ZCDC mining concession dogs are being set on innocent artisanal miners trying to earn a living from their activities. A number of young people can show deep cuts caused by vicious ZCDC security dogs which tear and rip them up.
Inspite of the community’s call to work with the mining companies as complimentary small scale miners and the concern have just hit a brick wall. So this is the only means of survival for the locals and they cannot back down. Perennial poor harvests and disused areas which used to subsidies our means of survival can no longer offer any alternatives. Those of weak hearts live in constant fear of these Rottweilers and other vicious breeds of dogs. As people of Chiadzwa we are now living like aliens in our own community.
Because of the breakdown of our health system those bitten by the dogs run into risk of getting rabies infection or wounds which would take time to heal . Since many cannot afford treatment this result in chronic ailments or even death.
- Cruelity and abuses by ZCDC Security Guards
Billy Matambo 12/12/17
On the 6th of December 2017, two young men from Buhera and Marange were caught in the diamond fields by ZCDC security guards. According to them they were tied hands and legs by the security guards. The guards then let the dogs free and shouted ‘catch’ them. They sustained serious dog bites. I later assisted them to get treatment from Counselling Service Unit .C.S.U is a pressure group which help victims of violence Zimbabwe. The young men are now getting treatment. We have a video on which narrating their story.
- Brutal and cold blooded shooting by Security Guards
Malvern Mudiwa Malmud 5/11/17
Shooting of innocent people in Diamond mining fields of Marange in Zimbabwe is still continuing, with the most recent brutally cold blood shooting of Tafadzwa Mavhiza on the eve of Friday 20th October 2017 by ZCDC security guards. The body was discovered three day later in the state of decomposition; the body is still in the Mutare General Hospital mortuary awaiting post-mortem. As representatives of the Marange Development Trust, we visited the family in an effort trying to help the family to understand the process and the way forward. We published the story in the Newsday newspaper of the 31st October 2017 which was on page 5 where we called for a thorough investigation on the matter. We condemned the killing of innocent civilians in the strongest terms. There is no justification for taking one’s life. There is a provision in our Constitution for the right to life
- ZCDC security guards abuses villagers at Betera
Refias Sithole 17/12/17
Information on my desk is that on the 14th of December 2017 some of the overzealous security guards from ZCDC caught up with one of our villagers ,, Tichaona Mharira from Betera. He was caught in the morning while he was doing their everyday work in their farming fields . They tied both his hands and legs together before setting their dogs on him while they watched. They also seriously assaulted him with big sticks all over his body. He sustained deep serious injuries and wounds from these dog bites. He was rushed to Chishingwi clinic before he was send to SCU in Mutare for further treatment
We a very much concerned and not happy about these continuous heinous barbaric human rights violation by these security guards in our village.
- Diamond panner murdered by company security
Josphat Makaza Chiadzwa 01/02/18
On 29th day of December 2017 an illegal diamond panner was brutally murdered by a company security detail at Zimbabwe Consolidated Diamond Company in the Marange area known as ‘Chiadzwa’. Company security dog handlers (names not stated) arrested 11 illegal diamond prospectors in the ‘red zone’ area. The accused persons were taken to the police base. On arrival the supervisor (Mr Churu) and his other companion asked the arresting security guards ” ko sei vasina madhoti” and he then told the accused to lie down on their stomach. After that Mr Churu and his other security guards started to beat the illegal panners (gwejas) until they couldn’t walk. After that they told them to board the vehicle. The accused persons realised they were not being taken to the police base but instead the vehicle was being driven to the security base where they were going to be brutally beaten again. Eight of the accused managed to escape and three couldn’t walk properly and fell down. Then Mr Churu and his crew began to brutalise the gwejas saying that,”murikufira yevamwe venyu vamaregera vachitiza’, and they used stones and heavy metal objects to brutalise the gwejas. The deceased asked for drinking water and the supervisor said to him ‘kutoda mvura kuti wauya kumugodhi here’ and they continued brutalising them and after a few minutes one of them stopped breathing and died. After the security guards noticed what they have done they took the two remaining injured gwejas to the police base where they didn’t tell the police of the murder they had committed. The arrested two gwejas told the police of what had transpired and that was when they went in search of the deceased body and found It with many injuries and it was removed to Marange mortuary. The deceased’s relatives were called to identify the body which they did on the 30th of December 2017. Mr Churu and his accomplices have been arrested by Mutare CID and are detained at Marange police station. The case is still under further investigations. These security guards are killing people like they are killing chickens.
- CCDT progress report
Joseph Makaza 14/02/18
Chiadzwa Community Development Trust met ZCDC officials in January 2018 to discuss on the killing and criminalisation of artisanal miners Marange,Chiadzwa . The main objective of the meeting were to find out how best can artisanal miners be decriminalized and community rights be protected and promoted. The Zimbabwe Republic Police and ZCDC security officers were killing artisanal miners just like chickens, with latest reports dated January 2018. Although the meeting ended with fists and fingers, one month after the stakeholder engagement meeting cases of killings and unfair treatment of artisanal miners in the hands of ZRP and ZCDC are going down. Currently ZRP Bambazonke is handling cases to do with artisanal miners in Marange. CCDT human rights monitors however still appeal to ZCDC to continue promote and protect the rights of the communities if sustainable mining is the company’s priority CCDT. Thank ZELA for support .
- Decriminalise artisinal miners
Josphat Makaza 3/04/18
Whilst Zimbabweans are anxiously waiting for the formalisation and recognition of artisanal miners through the proposed Mines and Minerals Amendment Bill the formalisation of miners has become a cause of concern in Marange, Chiadzwa diamond area. The hardworking miners are experiencing all forms of torture in the hands of security personnel manning the area. Despite being beaten and attacked by security officers dogs they are spending nights of torture under police custody at diamond base station. They are fined US$10 to US$50 for trespassing at Bambazonke police station. It sad to note that some miners living in the poverty stricken area are selling their goods to pay for the fine.
The miners who according to community based organisations, civil society groups and government said to contribute to economic development are tortured, fined and others losing their lives. Zimbabwe is amongst the countries that have failed to domesticate the African Mining Vision despite its calls to legalise artisanal and small scale miners.
- Military versus gold panners just like cats and dogs.
Billy Matambo 4/04/18
One can wonder whether the relationship between military and gold panners will ever reach a level were conflict is resolved amicably without force. Life is not easy for the illegal miners who resides in the mountainous area of Chimanimani.
Four armoured lorries full of armed soldiers invaded Rusiti area busting all gold panners operating from Tarka forests to Chimanimani mountains down to the boarders of Mozambique. This happened the afternoon of 3 April 2018. The issue soured the relationship between the two.The soldiers are saying that the Mozambique government is complaining that Zimbabwean gold panners are responsible for polluting water upstream which feeds into Rusitu River . While the gold panners in the terrains of Chimanimani are pointing their fingers at the Mozambican gold panners who operates downstream that they are also causing water pollution. So the Zimbabweans are arguing that they are not going to stop mining till Mozambique remove its panners first if they really want clean water downstream.
The soldiers from Chipinge visited the terrains unannounced and it was a game of cat and mouse with the artisanal miners who tried to escape though with difficulties due to the wet, muddy slopes. The soldiers threatened not to leave till the water was clean. They arrested most of the miners.
The councillor of Muchadziya, Mr Matayi tried to negotiate with the soldiers but only a few gold panners were released.
Water is being polluted yes, with massive deforestation but my recommendation is that the government must legalise artisanal gold panners and teach them about responsible mining that does not pollute water. The use of dangerous chemicals like mercury must be discouraged. They should be given claims in the terrains of Chimanimani as it is in Shurugwi and other areas.
- Informal small scale mining a lifeline for school dropouts
Gugulethu Mnkandhla, WODAZ.30/05/18
With the increasing rate of unemployment in Zimbabwe, families have to depend on the informal sector to eke a living. Unemployment of adult breadwinners has had perverse effects on school attendance as children have to quit school.
A 16 year old male in Gwanda has taken the responsibility of becoming the breadwinner for his family and drop out of school because his grandmother and uncle could not afford paying his fees. The Basic Education Assistance Module (BEAM) which he had relied on to cater for his school expenses did not offer a solution as he occasionally faced humiliation of failing to pay his school fees on time. School fees arrears led him to drop out of school and get into the mining to make a living.
The government’s failure to adequately fund the social services ministry continues to worsen the plight of orphaned and vulnerable children.
Due to disrupted employment opportunities, informal small scale mining is the only avenue he could take to sustain himself, his grandmother and uncle. Despite the risks he is subjecting himself to, he is willing to do whatever it takes to put food on the table. The little that he makes affords him access to basic commodities.
- Marange demonstration
Josphat Makaza /CCDT info/24 April
Following successive unfulfilled promises by ZCDC the Marange community lead by Chiadzwa Community Development Trust and Bocha Diamond Trust staged a peaceful demonstration against the government owned diamond mine. The demo which started yesterday ended today with ZCDC ready to meet a body of representatives from the community . The body comprises of Marange Chiefs, headmans and representation from community based organisations in the area and in Arda Transacu. An MOU will be signed as soon as possible that seeks to address the social, economic, cultural and environmental challenges the community is facing since diamond mining started. Thousands community members gathered and said no to illegal mining. The company is operating without the social operating licence.
- Road to formalizing Artisanal and Small-scale gold mining
Gugulethu Mnkandhla, Women Development Association in Zimbabwe. 06/06/2018
PACT an international NGO , held a worskshop in Gwanda on the 6th of June 2018 at Mount Cazalet Lodge under the theme, “Formalizing Artisanal Gold Mining and Trading in Zimbabwe.” The workshop was attended by youths in mining.
The main objective was to assist artisanal and small scale mining organizations in drafting organizational policies such as Human Resources, Gender and Safety, Health and Environmental (SHE) policies. Having systems and policies in place are a bid to curb negative stereotypes and ideologies on artisanal small-scale mining.
Innocent Mujajati of PACT facilitated a session on Managing Human Resources, highlighting the reasons why organizations need a personnel manual and the contents of a Human Resources Policy. He also encouraged artisanal and small-scale miners to honor statutory obligations like PAYE and NSSA.
Ruvimbo Kamba shed light to miners on Mine Safety, Health and Environmental policies and systems. She also indicated how practicing SHE in artisanal and small-scale mining promotes sustainable development, avoids occupational health problems inflected on people, and made reference to the Mines and Minerals Act on Safety Section 117 and 269. She concluded with encouraging mines to enforce SHE standards.
The last session delivered by Patson Chimuzinga was on Gender Equality in Artisanal and Small-scale mining. “Equal benefits, mutual respect and teamwork amongst miners are important in creating a safe environment for all sexes,” said Chimuzinga. Encouraging women to fully participate in Artisanal and Small-scale mining helps them develop and educate their families. He went on to encourage organizations to include flexible working hours to allow parents caring for babies to finish at least 2 hours before normal finishing time.
At the end of the workshop, miners reflected on lessons they learnt and pledged to have documented policies in their small organizations to promote professionalism in mining.