Women in Zimbabwe are now taking up a significant stake in the artisanal mining workforce but have been badly affected by the Coronavirus (COVID-19) since most of them are breadwinners in their families.
However, women in mining have voiced their concerns highlighting that it is crucial for the successful implementation of any mitigation and recovery strategies to survive during this COVID-19 pandemic.
This was revealed at a mining indaba which was recently hosted by Zimbabwe Coalition on Debt and Development (ZIMCODD) in conjunction with Zimbabwe Council of Churches (ZCC), Zimbabwe Environmental Law Association (ZELA) and different stakeholders at Suburban lodge in Gweru recently.
Eunica Pabwaungana a female artisanal miner from Shurugwi said COVID-19 affected their industry as there were restrictions which prohibited movement of people.
“I don’t want to lie, COVID-19 affected us to a greater extent, since we depend on mining, it was tough to go to Fidelity because of the presence of the army,” said Pabwaungana.
She added that, staying at home was not easy, though this was a national regulation to curb Covid-19.
“It was hard to stay at home as woman when you have a family to take care of. They gave us exemption letters which indicated that, only five people should operate per mine, while some of her workforce was forced to stay at home by authorities.
“There by affecting my productivity, which made it difficult to pay her workers on time as well as for the operating costs,” added Pabwaungana.
ZIMCODD Campaigns Officer, Angela Mandoreba indicated that, communities should benefit from the resources in their areas where mining is taking place.
“Public must benefit from their resources, it is sad to note that, these mining companies especially the Chinese are not worried about the benefits of the public, but rather exploit the locals,” said Mandoreba.
Representing ZCC, Rev Philip Mudzidzi said that, as a country there is need to achieve vision 2030 for development to take place.
“For us to achieve development we need to work together, let’s focus on the mining sector as a province, the role of the government is vital,” stated Mudzidzi.
Meanwhile, ZELA Executive Director, Shamiso Mutisi said that, communities are being affected by mining activities and at the end of day environmental rights of the public are sacrificed.
“There is need for the community to benefit from the mining resources, community always bear the effects of mining, as ZELA we have noted that Chinese investments are not following regulations,” noted Mutisi.
Women face a number of existing challenges in Artisanal Mining and the impact of COVID-19 will not be gender neutral.
The virus could potentially have a devastating impact on already fragile communities with weak healthcare systems and which also have high levels of violence.
The underlying poor health characteristics of Artisanal Mining communities also make them more susceptible to the effects of the virus.