Deal decisively with this threat
ARTISANAL chrome and gold miners play an important contributory role in the overall national
production of the two minerals.
However, the fact that they occupy such an important niche in mineral production should not be
an excuse for allowing them to operate as if they are in America’s Wild West.
Whatever activities they conduct during the course of contributing to the gross national
production of these minerals, these have to be within the laws of the land relating to the
environmental impacts of their work, the safety of other people, infrastructure as well as the
rights of other communities, livestock and wildlife.
Last week the Member of Parliament of Kwekwe Central, Judith Tobaiwa, appealed to the
Ministry of Mines and Mining Development to relocate Globe and Phoenix Primary School
because of the threat posed by activities of illegal miners, who are disrupting the education of
learners coupled with the likelihood of the classroom walls collapsing due to the blasting,
drilling and the noise pollution.
The illegal gold panners have made audacious bids that have seen them digging up classrooms at
night as they prospect for gold. Some of the mining activities are less than 100 metres from the
The legislator’s recommendation was two-fold; either relocate the school, or close down the
mining activities so that learners have a conducive learning environment.
The current position is that the illegal miners are also drilling and blasting at times when school
children are in class, thus increasing the risk of fatal outcomes.
The school has been under siege from illegal gold panners, whose activities expose pupils to
Classroom blocks and other infrastructure at the school were destroyed as a result of the
nocturnal activities of the illegal gold panners.
The school is located within the vicinity of the Kwekwe Central Business District, therefore
relocating it would only be a half-hearted attempt at dealing decisively with the threat from both
illegal gold panners and the registered mines operating in that area.
The first thing is to acknowledge the failure of enforcement agents in ensuring the safety of the
pupils and school infrastructure. The Ministry of Mines and Mining Development, the Zimbabwe
Republic Police and the Environmental Management Agency, should meet to agree on how to
drive away the illegal gold panners and bring an end to their lawlessness.
They could also agree on the measures to police the area, while asking the registered miners to
make sure the mine shafts they are burrowing underneath not just the school, but also the town
are secured from collapsing.
To act otherwise would be to surrender to illegal gold panners and in the process set a dangerous
Illegal mining activities are not just confined to Kwekwe. They are illegal gold mining activities
in Bindura and Mazowe in Mashonaland Central Province. They are also illegal chrome mining
activities in Beitbridge and Gwanda, in Matabeleland South Province along the railway line as
well as in Mberengwa, Shurugwi and Zvishavane, in the Midlands Province where mining
activities by illegal miners risk collapsing railway lines.
The solution is to deal decisively with the problem. We should not have to be prompted into
action when disaster strikes.
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