Mines Ministry Behind Spike In Mine Disasters – Parly Mines Committee Chair

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By Anna Chibamu

THE CHAIRPERSON of the Mines Parliamentary Portfolio Committee Edmond Mkaratigwa has blamed the mines ministry for failure to take action and reduce the high number of gold mine accidents across the country.

The ministry is headed by Minister Winston Chitando.

In recent weeks, a number of artisanal miners have died across the country after mine shafts they were working under collapsed on them. Some of the miners in Mutasa South, Bindura, Esigodini and Mudzi remain trapped as rescuers fail to retrieve their bodies.

Rescue operations have been worsened by the current rains the country is receiving.

However, Mkaratigwa feels the government through the mines ministry is not doing enough to stop mine fatal disasters.

“There is a problem in our (mines) ministry. A legislative gap with a new dimension beyond is what we had initially focused on including finalising the Mines and Minerals Amendment Bill,” he said.

The Zanu PF Shurugwi South MP also blamed other government departments of not briefing parliament on what was happening at the mines when call upon to so.

“Sadly no action has been fully explored. We are now engaging the (mines) ministry and other stakeholders to come up with a position for policy action, advocacy and other alternative programmes and projects towards ensuring reduction of accidents in the (mining) sector. We will need more advocacy because policy space is narrow and a congested territory.”

“Last week, we traversed the country to investigate the issue of mining disasters. Before that, the committee had put pressure on the mines ministry and the Civil Protection Unit (CPU) to take responsible action,” Mkaratigwa said.

“We have been following up on the events and pushing for a remedy where we think things can be done effectively.

“Having realised a surge in mining accidents, we have embarked on a fact finding mission in Manicaland, Matabeleland, Mashonaland West and later Bindura in Mashonaland Central to find the real challenges impacting effective exhumations, the actual causes of the accidents, challenges as well as delays in emergency responses,” he added.