Artisanal miners feel betrayed by Mnangagwa after being chased away
More than 2000 miners at Sandawana Mine feel betrayed by President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s regime after police chased them away empty handed.
Lithium miners at Sandawana were this week forced to walk away empty handed leaving behind the ore they labored so hard to extract amid promises from the mine to purchase their ore.
The poor workers can be heard on a video widely circulated on social media registering their disgruntlement after being removed from the mine.
They also stated that Mnangagwa had encouraged them to work and build the nation but the pledge was being breached.
The mining sector this year is expected to grow by 10, 4 percent, steered by sustained promising global mineral prices.
In line with the National Development Strategy 1 (NDS 1), the government through Finance Minister Mthuli Ncube indicated that it will be chaining out initiatives like Mining Industry Loan Fund that will be used for supporting artisanal and small- scale miners by availing mining establishment loans and equipment hire loan schemes.
Regardless of these promises, Sandawana artisanal miners feel betrayed because, instead of being supported, the same government is chasing them away.
A woman selling foodstuffs at the mine said: “We’re extremely not happy because they were supposed to give us a warning. If we go to South Africa for greener pastures, they call us back to vote and mend our country.
“Now we are here trying to mend the country but they are chasing us away. Do they want us to eat our babies? We are looking back to school now, there is no food but they are forcing us to go home.”
Another youth said: “We feel betrayed because we were happy that the President had allowed us to mine but we are being stopped again.”
In November last year, speaking in Mashonaland Central province, Mines minister Winston Chitando pledged government support for small scale miners.
“We want artisanal miners to be organised and mine in an orderly manner. We don’t want to see holes everywhere. You will be working with big companies like Metallon Gold. We don’t want revenue leakages, and we want to support our President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s mining vision,” he said.
Commenting on the chasing away of miners from Sandawana Mine, Director of the Centre for Natural Resource Governance (CNRG) Farai Maguwu slammed the government for failing to institute measures that support local miners in Zimbabwe.
“If your own people can extract, why do you need a foreign investor? The hard working people of Zim have proved once again that they have the capacity to extract mineral resources from the ground to support their families and build their country,” he said.
“The only noble thing the government should have done was to support them by regulating their activities. Even better, govt could buy the lithium ore from the villagers, take it to processing plants for crushing and build its own lithium ore stockpiles
“And now after chasing away villagers who had gathered their lithium, the untouchables are now harvesting the blood and sweat of the poor. This only happens in the jungle where an animal toils to bring down its prey only to be chased by a more powerful predator.
“The same happened in Marange where villagers discovered diamonds in April 2006, after many years of govt collusion with De Beers in looting the diamonds at night. When citizens flocked Marange the security forces were deployed and everyone chased away. The looting continues,” Maguwu added.