BY PATRICIA SIBANDA
A DELEGATION from the Zimbabwe Federations of Trade Union (ZFTU) yesterday visited Esikhoveni Mine in Esigodini, Matabeleland South province, to investigate the accident that killed four mine workers last Tuesday.
The accident happened when the ground underneath the miners’ movable tin shack weakened and caved in, resulting in them being buried in a shaft.
The bodies of Dumisani Sibanda (43), Tapiwa Moyo (41) and Ashton Swilinga (86) were retrieved, while that of Andrea Malunga (79) is yet to be accounted for.
The ZFTU delegation, led by president Alfred Makwarimba, said it was not happy with the Mines ministry, which is not assigning experts to draw out maps of mines that were abandoned during the colonial era, leading to accidents.
“Our concern is mainly on the safety of workers and the Ministry of Mines should have everything on paper, basically looking at the conditions of any mine in Zimbabwe before issuing out any licence to anyone,” he said.
Makwarimba slammed government for not carrying out inspections on the ground.
“What we are seeing here is totally different from what was said on TV, radios and in newspapers. The problem is with the government because their people, who are just working from their offices, were never on the ground to witness what is happening at this mine,” he said.
“The Ministry of Mines should provide maps of mines. How do they work without knowing the state of any mine they issue out (a licence)? People like that should be arrested for not looking deep enough into such situations.”
Makwarimba said such sloppiness chases away investors.
“How do investors come into Zimbabwe to invest when this is happening? They are probably asking themselves if Zimbabwe is still worth investing in if such tragic incidents are happening like this. If ED (President Emmerson Mnangagwa) is saying Zimbabwe is open for business, he does not mean that it’s open to kill or destroy human life. Workers’ safety is important,” the ZFTU president said.
“If this is what they establish would happen, then they should stop mining activities and experts must investigate the state of each and every mine in the country. Workers cannot work on paperless places.”
Esikhoveni Mine owner Jan Blighnut said the ministry should make sure that mines are surveyed, inspected and drawn down on paper to avoid such incidents from recurring.
Matabeleland South provincial mines deputy director Khumbulani Mlangeni last week said operations to retrieve the fourth body were still underway.