People with disabilities lament segregation in small-scale mining 

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Jeffrey Muvundusi

PHYSICALLY-CHALLENGED people have lamented segregation in small-scale mining, calling on the government to empower them in the sector.
Amid socio-economic malaise in the country, millions of poor Zimbabweans have turned to artisanal and small-scale mining as they try to fend for their families.
However, few people living with disability have ventured into small-scale mining and they cite lack of capital and poor infrastructure as reasons behind their failure.
This came out during a mining Indaba in Bulawayo yesterday that was organised by the Centre for Conflict Management and Transformation (CCMT).



Noleen Manomano, secretary of people living with disability at the Zvishavane Women Miners Association said incapacitated people were struggling to enter the small-scale mining sector.


“We have agency and we are hard workers, but we are having a serious challenge in mining. We lack the technical know-how in mining, and this is a big challenge for us,” Manomano said.
“We also face financial challenges and as a physically-challenged person with no cent how do you start? Where do you get a loan? How do you repay it? What are the terms? We don’t know all this and this has made small-scale mining difficult for us,” added Manomano.
Obert Sithole from the Zimbabwe Skills Trust said infrastructure in mining areas does not favour people living with disability.
“We have those who are blind and there are no facilities that can make them partake in mining. We have those who use wheelchairs and they cannot move around mines. So, we are heavily disadvantaged as there is no proper infrastructure to allow us to mine,” said Sithole.
“We are failing to get any form of support, those who try to do so will be having ulterior motives. We do want to mine, but as it is, it is difficult,” added Sithole.
A wheelchair-bound miner from Gwanda, Ronica Moyo, said there was too much discrimination in the sector.
“Sometimes you feel that it’s a sin to be disabled. You really have to be strong because the discrimination is just shocking,” mourned Moyo.
“Instead of people supporting us, they want to steal from us or move us from our claims. Some think that because we are incapacitated, we are underutilising the claims, but we all want to live, we have families to look after,” she added.
However, a director at the Women Affairs ministry Vaidah Mashangwa said her ministry has availed loans for people living with disability to engage in various businesses.
“We have loans to empower people living with disabilities. You are allowed to go to the Women Bank and get loans. Just the other day, we held a meeting and the chief executive told people that they can go to the bank and apply for loans. Loans are there and they are waiting for people,” said Mushonga.
Research and advocacy coordinator at CCMT Shadreck Vengesai implored the government to enact policies that emancipate the miners.
“The mining sector is an industry where marginalisation of persons living with disability is rampant. The government needs to put in place policies and practices that ensure inclusivity,” said Vengesai.
Last year, small-scale and artisanal miners contributed 56 percent of the foreign exchange earned by the country, contributing 6,5 tonnes of the yellow metal.

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