- June 19, 2020
- Posted in LOCAL
Artisanal and small-scale miners in Gwanda, Matabeleland South, have appealed to the government to allocate them the subsidised roller meal as they were struggling to access the commodity in the shops.
Zimbabwe is under an indefinite Covid-19 national lockdown, and as part of the measures to enforce it, mining workers were directed to “remain within the precincts of their accommodation at workplaces for the duration of the lockdown.”
Workers are also expected to observe social distancing.
In response to the ongoing Covid-19 induced national lockdown and to ensure social distancing for public health safety in the fight against the COVID-19, government, through the Ministry of Public Service, Labour, and Social Welfare, is distributing subsidised roller meal to all the formal retail shops in cities and towns.
A 10-kilogram bag of the subsidised roller meal is going for $70 while the unsubsidised one is going for $300.
Miners who spoke to Mining Zimbabwe said they were struggling to access the subsidised mealie-meal as they spend most of their time in the bush, mining.
“We are starving to tell you the truth and the situation is not good at all. We are struggling to access the subsidised mealie-meal in Gwanda shops because most of the time we will be in the bush,” a miner who identified himself as Ndodana Tshuma said.
Miners said the unsubsidised mealie-meal was being sold in foreign currency like the United States dollar, Botswana pula, and South African rand.
Mthandazo Women Miners Association chairperson Sithembile Ndlovu appealed to the government to intervene.
“Since workers are not allowed or restricted to leave their workplaces for the duration of the lockdown as part of measures to combat the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, as mine owners we have taken it upon ourselves to source food on their behalf,” Ndlovu said.
“However, we are struggling to source the mealie-meal for our workers as the subsidised roller meal in Gwanda town is not easily available. Sometimes we end up travelling to areas such as Guyu looking for mealie-meal. It’s really bad because workers need to eat for them to perform.”
“We appeal to the government to intervene and at least allocate us the subsidised roller meal. Otherwise, production in mines is going to be greatly affected.”
Contacted for comment on the matter, Public Service, Labour, and Social Welfare minister Paul Mavima, however, professed ignorance, saying “we distributed mealie-meal to all parts of the country last week. I’m not sure what is happening in Gwanda.”
Gwanda falls within the dry regions of the country, receiving very little rainfall each year, which makes it susceptible to agricultural crop failures.
As such, year in-year out, the mining area is always struck by drought.
As of June 11, Matabeleland South province has recorded 45 COVID-19 cases and zero deaths while countrywide, 332 cases had been recorded with only 4 deaths.
This article first appeared in the 15 June issue of Mining Newsweek Magazine