- August 15, 2020
- Posted in LOCAL
THE closure in 2000 of Mhangura Copper Mine, about 188km north-west of Harare and Shackleton Mine near Chinhoyi town, has spawned socio-economic challenges for the locals, particularly women and youths.
Prior to the closure, hundreds of workers were laid off at Shackleton Mine in 1996 during the Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation (ZMDC) retrenchment exercise.
Mhangura and Shackleton were both subsidiaries of ZMDC.
Thousands of workers at the two mines lost their jobs in 1999 when ZMDC decided to halt operations due to several issues including market volatility; this meant their dependants suddenly had no breadwinners and turned the once-bustling settlements into ghost towns.
Some of the former workers of Zimbabwean nationality and their families packed their bags to start new lives elsewhere, particularly their rural areas; but for most foreign former workers of Malawian, Mozambican and Zambian origin, that was not the case.
They had no option, but to stick around at the mining settlements.
They witnessed the settlements and infrastructures deteriorate and become white elephants without any help.
Access to cheaper and potable water was affected by the closure of the mines and people resorted to unsafe water sources.
After enduring years of hardship, residents in the two areas have started sustaining their lives through scavenging for scrap metal for resale.
Thousands of Shackleton residents, 15 kilometres west of Chinhoyi, throng various former mine dumping sites in search of metals.
Not minding Covid-19 regulations including social distancing and putting on face masks the residents dig the land for iron scrap, which they sell for $3 per kilogramme.
Buyers from Harare have so far dominated the said lucrative business.
Agnes Katandika (67) from Shackleton said she could now buy food and clothing for her grandchildren because iron scrap metal had become a blessing for the people of Shackleton.
“I am now able to buy food for myself and my grandchildren. Before this, life was difficult but, this is like manna from heaven,” said Katandika.
Local Councillor, Cde Innocent Mangwanya said the closure of Shackleton Mine in 1996 left former employees and their families scavenging for food to eke a living.
Cde Mangwanya said residents were now able to pay council rates, among other obligations.
Mangwanya said, “People here mostly survive on vending. The realisation that iron scrap is a source of income has transformed the lives of many who were previously unable to pay rent and rates to council.”
He however implored scroungers to observe lockdown regulation rules like social distancing and wearing face masks to stop the spread of Covid-19 while at the same time preserving the environment.
In Mhangura, Talent Mupinga who now occupies his late parent’s house in the high density of Damba Village said iron scrap metal had improved his family’s life.
He urged youths to consider venturing into the business to curb the rise in crime rates.