31 August 2020
Story by Gilbert Moela
As the world faces the challenge of tackling the COVID-19 pandemic crisis, it is instrumental to ensure that communities affected by mining gain the correct information about this illness; its risks, means of prevention, and also the myths surrounding the coronavirus. For years, there have been calls to improve access to essential facilities for communities affected by mining, however challenges remain. The emergence of COVID-19 have created a grave situation for communities living closer to mine tailing dumps.COVID-19 prevention campaigns on hygiene, washing of hands with soap or sanitizers and social distancing have not reached this mining affected communities as it should be. Within the community there are often challenges such as low network connectivity, underdeveloped schools, inadequate health or sanitation facilities, poor road networks, and very low incomes.
“Health facilities in Monametse Village are either far or inadequate and testing for COVID-19.”
Residents of Monametse Village are also calling for the government to recognise and put in place COVID-19 and other legislation that acknowledges mining affected communities as legitimate stakeholders within the mining sector. This would enable councils and community development agents to budget for development in these communities, and better respond to challenges such as the current pandemic.
Instead of ensuring that this communities are receiving a better health facilities, mining companies have resorted to providing poverty relief programs in a form of food parcel distribution which has let to many community members asking whether the initiative was to brainwash the communities into believing that they are being taken care of by the mining companies even though such programs were not available prior the emergence of the pandemic.