Zimbabwe News and Internet Radio

Gaika Mine Primary School: Children learn under the shadow of death

By Staff Reporter

“They (illegal artisanal miners) carry out their blasting operations any time of the day without any safety measures for the school children who are either passing along the road or having lessons in their classrooms,” said the head in charge who could not reveal her name for fear of victimisation.

Scenes from the violent skirmishes at Gaika Mine in Kwekwe
Scenes from the violent skirmishes at Gaika Mine in Kwekwe

“One day the grade two roof was ripped open by huge stone fragments that missed the learners and their teacher.

“You can see that opening on the left side of the roof, we tried to patch it to cover ourselves from the rain.

“This table was here, the rock fell a few inches from this chair,” she said.

“There is nothing we can do but children are learning under the shadow of death.”

Gaika school is situated about 300 metres away from the huge pit where the illegal artisanal miners have invaded and commenced operations.

The illegal mining has been happening since February 2018 and no police officers, health personnel or the environmental management authority (EMA) can stop the mine invasion because “it is a political issue.”

Scenes from the violent skirmishes at Gaika Mine in Kwekwe
Scenes from the violent skirmishes at Gaika Mine in Kwekwe in April 2018

High Court orders against the invaders have been disregarded with impunity and more than 3000 illegal miners are always on the site at any given time.

“There is no rule of law and all the efforts to stop the invasion are hitting a brick wall. We have lost our jobs because the owners of the mine cannot continue to pour their money here,” said a former Gaika mine employee.

The invasion has dealt a major blow to efforts by President Emmerson Mnangagwa to attract foreign direct investments.

“There is no respect for property rights. Court orders are not being enforced and some agents such as the Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (Zesa) are being arm-twisted and forced to erect power lines so that the illegal miners can use their machinery.”

Thousands of Zanu PF youths invaded Gaika Gold Mine, which is a joint venture between China Africa Investment and Development Co. Ltd (CAIDC) and Duration Gold Limited.

The invasion is taking place at a time when former Mbizo legislator, Vongai Mupereri, who is leading the youths, has ignored numerous court orders to stop the invasions. Nehanda Radio