MATOPOS– The Zimbabwe Diamond and Allied Mineral Workers Union (ZDAMWU) has claimed that the recent deaths at Nugget gold mine in Matopos exposes the National Social Security Authority (NSSA) for not fulfilling its mandate and neglecting mine workers’ rights and failing to protect them.
This follows the collapsing of Nugget gold mine on Monday morning killing four artisanal miners while 12 are still trapped.
Local Protection Civil Unit official Sithandiwe Ncube has confirmed that four gold miners have died after the mine collapsed on Monday morning.
She also confirmed that they were battling to rescue miners and had to rope in rescue teams from How Mine and deployed them to help trapped miners.
The incident occurred at an abandoned gold mine situated about 30 kilometres out of Bulawayo within Matabeleland South province.
ZDAMWU secretary general Justice Chinhema called on Labour and Social Welfare minister Sekai Nzenza to reconstitute the NSSA board as it has failed to serve its purpose.
‘Its high time that NSSA resources are channelled towards education, advocacy and training of miners and their workers across the country on safe mining. This can only be done if NSSA takes the right direction on workers cause,’
Chinhema said the number of incidents where artisanal miners were dying were on a sharp increase which is worrisome.
“Nugget mine was condemned and abandoned. Who authorised operations there without NSSA monitoring the situation that enhances miners’ safety?
“ This is now getting out of hand as we are losing many of potential membership whose safety must be guaranteed by a Government body that came through an enactment of law. That is why we say heads must roll at NSSA. As a union, we are concerned that minister of Labour is still yet to reconstitute the body to have all stakeholders input for our concerns to be understood,” lamented Chinhema.
“ NSSA board must be accountable to workers and miners are not in a vacuum. They need them to be protected. It is mandatory that we have NSSA board that understand workers’ rights and safety not lavish lifestyles in offices. If workers are contributing to NSSA why are they not protected on their safety as a requirement by law?’ asked Chinhema.
Investigations made by Zimbabwe Morning Post have revealed that the gold mine was abandoned after it was condemned several years ago.
Sources revealed that for several months some miners started working on it although it was a ‘risk venture’
‘It was out of desperation due to unemployment that several artisanal miners were playing hide and seek with authorities to mine gold there,’ explained one of our sources.
ZDAMWU was part of several mine workers unions that went at the site when it was condemned.
“We visited the mine four months ago on membership drive but we only met four people there and it was a sign that there were no official operations at the mine. Due to lack of diligence and monitoring by players like NSSA, the worst is gripping our mining sector,” said Chinhema
There were no official comments from both minister Nzenza and NSSA at the time of writing.
Meanwhile, after the Cricket Mine disaster where more than twenty miners lost their lives in Battlefields, the Ministry Of Mines said they go on the ground to monitor potential threats on artisanal miners’ lives but to date no that has not been implemented.
Nugget mine ownership has been at the centre of controversy between a consortium of youths Duive Enterprises and some Bulawayo businessmen Charles Chiponda and Isaac Dakamela.