Midlands State University(MSU) joined the Environmental Management Agency(EMA), National Social Security Authority(NSSA), Fidelity Printers and Refineries, the Ministry of Mines and Mining Development and other local and regional mining associations in supporting the Zimbabwe Safety Health and Environmental Council (ZIMSHEC)’s official launch on the 10th of September 2021 at Holiday Inn Hotel in Bulawayo.
ZIMSHEC is an organisation founded by small scale & artisanal miners in Zimbabwe to promote occupational health and safety, environmentally friendly and sustainable mining practices as well as reduce the number of people trapped in mines due to poor mining practices.
Speaking at the launch, a representative of MSU’s Tugwi Mukosi Multi-disciplinary Research institute (TMMRI), Josephine Mwafuka Ngirazi said that MSU values its partnership with ZIMSHEC and hopes that the relationship will go a long way in promoting safety and environmental sustainability in mining.
“MSU cherishes its partnership with ZIMSHEC, the partnership is founded on the principles of safety, health and inclusive sustainable growth in promoting environmentally friendly and sustainable mining practices in the country.
In line with the Ministry of Higher and Tertiary Education, Innovation, Science and Technolgy Development‘s Education 5.0 mantra, MSU will share its knowledge and expertise with ZIMSHEC by taking advantage of the extensive skills and knowledge in its faculties of Medicine and Health Sciences, Engineering and Geosciences, Agriculture, Environment and Natural Resources Management as well as the Faculty of Science and Technology,” Mwafuka said.
Artisanal and small-scale miners produce over 60 per cent of the country’s total gold production. However, the sector has seen hundreds of artisanal miners trapped to death underground in flooded or collapsing mines.
Notable disasters include the 2019 Battlefields mine disaster near Kwekwe and the Ran mine disaster in Bindura in late 2020.
ZIMSHEC Secretary-General Mr Philemon Mokuele said that the organisation was launched in partnership with various mining and safety stakeholders like NSSA, EMA, ZELA and Bains Clinic who sit on the organisation’s national board.
“It’s not that the miners don’t want to practice health and safety but we discovered that most miners don’t know what they are supposed to do because when they join the mining sector they don’t get any training. Hence we sat down with mining colleagues and created ZIMSHEC and spearheaded this organisation so that miners across the country get training and make safety and health important issues in their business.
We hope this trust will cover all small-scale and artisanal miners across the country. We got the idea from non-governmental organisations that used to train miners; organisations like Zimbabwe Environmental Lawyers Association (ZELA),” said Mokuele.
Ministry of Mines and Mining Development Deputy Government Engineer Tapererwa Noel Pasvavaviri commended the ZIMSHEC board for coming up with an organisation that will increase productivity, sustainability, safety and health in the artisanal and small scale mining sector.
“A safe working environment is a fundamental human right which has a direct impact on quantity, productivity and quality. As we move ahead with our vision to become a middle-income economy by 2030 we must ensure that our mining activities are sustainable and responsive to the needs and expectations of mining communities, said Pasvavaviri.
ZIMSHEC Executive Chairman Mr Makumba Nyenje added that the organisation will be working on a multi-stakeholder approach to train and capacitate small-scale miners to engage in sustainable mining.
“We are going to tackle issues to do with formalisation, observation of health principles, observation of safety precautions in mining and issues to do with health principles. We are going to offer a lot of training workshops and we are going to be the conduit for safety health and environmental (SHE) issues in the artisanal and small scale mining sector,” Said Nyenje.
Joyce Machivi Zela Programs Officer endorsed the formulation and launch of ZIMSCHEC as a step in the right direction and is a result of training that ZELA has been having with artisanal miners in Zimbabwe.
“We have come a long way with artisanal and small scale miners in the country. Our focus as ZELA is training artisanal and small-scale miners to promote responsible and sustainable mining. One thing that I am happy about is that this training over the years has not been taken for granted because we are now seeing the results”, said Machivi.
Plans are afoot for the signing of a memorandum of understanding between MSU’s research unit TMRRI and ZIMSHEC.
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