Machete gangs pose gold sector security risks

Pic: Man holding Machete

Gold is Zimbabwe’s largest foreign currency earner, vital for a country in the middle of fighting the effects of Covid-19 pandemic to the economy.

Gold contributed about US$1.8 billion to the total export revenues in 2021. In the outlook for 2022, gold production is expected at 35 tons with the market conditions that prevailed in 2021 expected to persist in 2022. Gold revenues are expected to reach US$2 billion in 2022.

However, female miners say their operations are under threat from machete gangs who are chasing them away from their claims.

Mthandazo Women Miners Association Trust founder and chairperson Sithembile Ndlovu (SN) was exclusively interviewed by our reporter Almot Maqolo (AM).

She talked about the major challenges facing women in mining sector, who are seeking protection from machete gangs.

AM: What are some of the challenges you have personally faced as a woman in the mining industry?

SN: Challenges faced in the mining industry’s women are machete gang’s invasion especially in our area, we had an incident last year whereby they invaded our mine although they were caught by miners who came together. Mining is a male dominated industry and most men tend to take advantage of women,take over their mines and owe. It is difficult to be heard as an individual. That’s why you find we have to come together as women to put across our ideas.

AM: How important is mentoring in helping women to rise to leadership positions in the mining sector.

SN: Leadership and mentoring is important because we are all about sustaining the youth, we want to leave a legacy behind for our children as women therefore our action plan is indulging the youth in our association. We mentor each other in order to grow further as women. We are acquiring claims for our women through the help of non-governmental organisations. Also we have attained training that enables us to stand firm and know our rights in order to advocate for ourselves if we face any challenges in the mining sector for example we are aware of our constitution.

AM: What are the biggest barriers to women in the mining sector?

SN: The biggest barrier to women is male domination. This is in the sense that claims are being taken away from women.  Lack of claims for other women and machete gangs promoting violence are some of the barriers. Most importantly, we need collateral in order to attain bank loans which some women lack.

AM: What are the most effective approaches organisations can put in place to provide women with opportunities to develop in this industry?

SN: Training for women workshops so they can come together and associate there is a voice in being many than being individual. We need training for security in order to improve safety. Also we need to train people on how to use guns and disaster management training in case of any emergency. On the other hand we need training on due diligence and transparency.

AM: What advice do you have for women venturing in the mining industry?

SN: Stay patient, invest and seek knowledge. Do not be a cellphone miner, be on the ground

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