Business - Featured - Local - Top Stories - March 26, 2021

Women miners appeal for protection

Tendai Bhebe (Bulawayo Correspondent)

Women in the mining sector have appealed for increased Government support and protection as they are facing numerous challenges in the ‘male-dominated’ industry.

According to the chamber of mines report stated, the mining sector accounted for more than 60% of the country’s foreign currency receipts in 2019 and contributed around 16% of the National GDP. Mining has earmarked to contribute 12 billion by 2023.

Speaking during a webinar  on women’s contribution to Zimbabwe’s vision 2030, the Zimbabwe Miners Federation (ZMF) Vice President Lindiwe Mpofu said that the mining sector was working trying to tackle quiet a number of issues that affect miners especially women miners.

“The main challenge that you are always going to face as a woman is a patriarchal society in a country like Zimbabwe. It’s a fact that everything is going male dominated so of course you do get the discounting of your opinions and sort of a disregard the women within the industry. However, I am glad to say that I think because of the participation of more women in the mining industry now it’s sort of falling to the wayside. However, there are still a lot of issues that women still have to overcome as well within the industry.

“We are still trying to tackle a quite a number of issues that initially confronted us Otherwise really our complications or challenges as women are very much into our male counterparts we are facing discounted pricing obviously the Covid-19 pandemic internationally it affects a lot of inflows. The closure of borders so that has been negatively impact on our line of business within the country we would like to see stadia policies where mining is involved it is very integrated with policies that are at place in our industry,” she said.

She added: “We mine in communal lands and people have different beliefs so you will find that we still have to integrate with the chiefs of the area to have discussions. We have issues that we are told when women are present the gold disappears on our monthly we are not allowed in the pit so there’s a lot of discriminatory beliefs that continue to be upheld by certain male counterparts within our industry but I think it’s a matter of exposure and it’s a matter of the more women that are into little by little there’s a transformation happening in the field.”

Mpofu explained that the lack of proper equipment was a major setback for women miners who find it hard to optimise production and earn concrete profits.

She said the mining industry was having challenges in accessing foreign currency for them to continue with their operations.

“There is a dire for access to foreign currency to continue with our operations, the banking sector inclusion as they give us funds and running programs for the mining sector. We really appreciate Nedbank and CBZ bank for taking those initiatives to us miners but we still need more banks that integrated into it. This would help us have more access to foreign currency so as to acquire more capital for different miners. It is important that the banking sector looks at different programs that they can make available to miners across the country.

Zimbabwe’s mining industry is focused on a diverse range of small to medium mining operations. The most important minerals produced by Zimbabwe include gold, asbestos, chromite, coal and base metals. The mining industry contributes approximately 8% towards the country’s GDP.

Mthandazo Women Miners Association Trust (MWMAT) founder and chairperson Sithembile Ndlovu said there has been an increase in crime rate it has made women find it difficult to operate in their mining activities. They were prompting other miners to engage themselves in an effort to create a crime free environment especially for women miners.

According to WHO the International women’s day is a global day celebrated in the month of March on progress made to promote and protect women’s equality and human rights.

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