Artisanal miners slam govt for poor reaction to Kwekwe disaster

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By Staff Reporter

SOME artisanal miners have voiced their frustrations with government’s slow reaction to the Kwekwe mine collapse in which two gold panners died while 20 were trapped.

The mishap occurred following the collapse of a disused mine shaft at Kwekwe gold Mine Globe and Phoenix Mine midnight Wednesday.

The two were eventually rescued Friday ….

However, that did not stop the miners from criticising government’s poor react on the disaster.

“Government has been slow in responding to this disaster,” said one minor who preferred not to be identified Friday.

“The accident occurred at midnight on Wednesday and it was only around 5 pm the following day Thursday that we saw officials from the Ministry of Mines coming to the scene.

“Unfortunately, they didn’t do much in as far as rescuing our trapped colleagues.”

When arrived at the scene of the disaster, a sombre atmosphere enveloping the mining site told a story of how nature can be unforgiving.

It was gathered that although Kwekwe District Civil Protection Unit was on the ground earlier following the tragedy, not much could be done to rescue the trapped miners.

“We struggled to retrieve the bodies of our colleagues as they were squashed,” an artisanal miner said.

The artisanal miners, at the time, feared some of their colleagues could have drowned in the dam at level 4 where the disaster occurred.

“Our biggest fear now is that some of our colleagues might never be accounted for as we suspect they might have fallen into the dam and drowned. There is a dam at level 4 and just close from where the disaster occurred,” a source said.

Government however, said it was working around the clock on the issue.

Said Kwekwe District Civil Protection Unit chairperson, Fortune Mupungu at the time of the rescue operation, “We are working around the clock to get to the bottom of the issue.

“We have been on the ground and there haven’t been any changes from the information we have that two died whilst two others were critically injured.

“We are waiting for a preliminary report from the Mines Ministry to ascertain the extent of the disaster.”

Mbizo MP Settlement Chikwinya said the tragedy was a direct result of massive unemployment in the country.

“The root cause of illegal and dangerous artisanal mining in disused mining shafts is simply a manifestation of high unemployment levels and the devastating poverty faced by our young people in Kwekwe and throughout Zimbabwe.

“Information I have received so far is that, the trapped artisanal miners at the disused Globe and Phoenix Mine enter the mine shafts and work on the pillars that support the roof of the tunnels which were left in 2005 by Kwekwe Consolidated Mine Company.”

Globe and Phoenix Mine was closed down in 2007 by the Environmental Management Agency (EMA) for failing to comply with regulations.