On the 24th of April 2019, in Mpumalanga Highveld under Emalahleni Municipality, people held the Environmental Crisis Dialogue with relevant stake holders from provincial and municipal governance,SAPS , Law enforcement, schools (primary and secondary ),TUT, churches, political parties, unions ,community members , CBOs, FNGOs and two medical doctors from KZN Nelson Mandela Medical School. They started by marching putting on dust musk as a sign of air pollution. The dialogue was successful and its aim was to hear the views of different stake holders about what is happening at Emalahleni.
By Xolelwa Pona in East London, Eastern Cape.
A Clean-Up campaign took place at Needs Camp, in East London on the 26th of March 2019. The area was identified as a host spot by the community members because it is where people, but mostly women get mugged, raped, killed and dumped there. Most women restrict their activities because of the fear of being vulnerable. This reduces their level of community participation and makes them more vulnerable to be victims of crime. Now, that the space has been cleaned at least everyone can see the activities happening in the field and there are no trees and overgrown vegetation to hide in. “A community that is safe for women is a community that is safe for all.”
By Mmathapelo Thobejane, Sekhukhune, Limpopo
It’s that time of the year again when people make a living out of sand. Unemployment is one of the challenges we are facing in this area and during this season sand mining is increasing at Moopetsi River. People are conducting brisk business out of this, however the problem is that the river is now in bad condition because they over mine the sand leading to river erosion. This is detrimental as the river dries up quickly and the pools where cows used to drink water are being destroyed too. People who live next to the river are at risk too because the river erodes towards their homesteads. This is very dangerous and I think the Department of Environmental Affairs must monitor sand mining in this river because it’s destroying our environment.
Illegal sand mining continues in Limpopo. When there is no rain the sand becomes scarce and expensive. When it rains big commercial trucks come to destroy river banks harvesting sand, corroding rivers and disturbing the ecosystem balance. In most cases sand poachers bribe locals to get access to this community resource without permission from the local chief.
By Llloyd Sesemani
Like many young unemployed youths,23 year old Talent Mutepfa from Tsvingwe surburb has joined several people participating in the Manicaland gold rush in a bid to survive the country’s deteriorating economy. According to him poverty has driven him to artisanal gold mining.
Since the closure of DTZ mining company in 2016 several people who lost their jobs have struggled to make ends meet. The majority of DTZ former employees have resorted to illegal gold panning and these have gone on to reoccupy the disused shafts of the former miner in search of gold.
The percentage of school drop outs has also risen since most have traded books for picks and shovels. Moreover, the moral fibre of society has also decayed while the environment has not been spared with massive land degradation on the rise.
People in the area are living in fear; this comes in the wake of machete gang fights that have become popular in the suburb’s nightclub and these actions are allegedly being perpetrated by the artisanal miners.
The gold rush is an indication of the negative effects of Zimbabwe’s current economic meltdown which has seen closure of most companies.
The community of Penhalonga is making deafening calls on the government to urgently address their concerns as they argue that a stitch in time saves nine.
Arda Transau relocation, a tale of the resource curse
Drug abuse, commercial sex work, domestic violence and family disintegration are some of the social ills that remain embedded in most rural communities. Villagers residing in Arda Transau, a state owned farm turned residential area for people displaced by mining activities in Chiadzwa’s diamond fields have argued that these challenges are faced predominantly by women.
“These challenges date back to 2009 when villagers from Marange were displaced to pave way for large scale diamond mining. People’s rights were violated, they were relocated without adequate compensation and compensation procedures were not properly followed.” According to Chairman of Zimbabwe Diamonds and Allied Workers Union, Cosmas Sunguro
Sunguro further highlighted that the villagers, particularly women, in the resettled community felt disoriented, and traumatised by verbal, psychological and other types of abuse by the military who were actively involved in the forced displacement.
Some women residing in the area have raised concern over domestic violence and sexual harassment in their families attributing this to insufficient or lack of food to feed the family among other basic necessities. Most of the families relocated to Arda Transau from Chiadzwa diamond fields do not have income generating projects that can assist them to fend for their families. The rate of unemployment is estimated at around 95%, the community of Arda Transau has not been spared.
Speaking in her local language, Marry Kusena who resides in Arda Transau said, ”lack of livelihood projects to sustain their families has brought untold suffering in the community adding that the government and former mining companies who relocated them did not provide alternative livelihoods options for sustaining them.”
According to a survey conducted in Arda Transau by the Zimbabwe Diamonds and Allied Workers Union (ZIDAWU) in June this year, some of the women interviewed revealed that they are engaging in commercial sex work to earn a living. If given other alternative ways of survival, they confided that they would quit the trade. Women hardly have access to employment opportunities in the mining companies to be able to sustain their families.
In addition, most parents cannot afford to pay school fees and the burden often falls on the mothers who have to take manual jobs to secure school fees. The management at a local school in Arda Transau has also come under the spotlight for sending pupils back home for failure to settle tuition fees. This is in direct contravention of Section 75(1) of the Zimbabwe Constitution which notes that; every citizen and permanent resident of Zimbabwe has a right to a basic State funded education.
ZIDAWU argues that there is a need for continuous engagement with communities that depend on and are affected by extractivism while development partners and the government must ensure that mining companies honour their obligations.
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