Small-scale miners have implored Government to commit more funds towards artisanal mining activities, which they said were proving to be the major contributors to the country’s foreign currency requirements.
Making contributions during 2019 Government budget consultations at Kwekwe Theatre on Monday, artisanal miners said Government should appreciate the contribution by small-scale miners to the national gold output and channel more funds towards mining.
“I think Government made the right decision when they abolished the term ‘gold panners’ when referring to small- scale miners,” said Jorn Gandira, an artisanal miner.
“We are now referred to as artisanal miners, but what Government needs to do now is to channel more funds to help these artisanal and small-scale miners to grow.
“With little available resources, artisanal miners are proving to be the major contributors to the country’s foreign currency requirements.”
Chairperson of the Kwekwe-Silobela Small-Scale Miners’ Association Charles Mahuni said it was time Government gave due recognition to the small-scale miners by allocating funds towards their activities.
“It is high time our Government starts to seriously consider funding our operations,” he said. “We are producing more gold and we are even competing well with large-scale miners in terms of contribution to the national gold output, but we do not have any funding at the moment.
“In the 2019 Budget, Government should seriously consider this seemingly forgotten, but very important sector. We have the capacity to produce more gold, but due to lack of funding we are not operating to (full) capacity.”
Mahuni said Government should ensure that areas like the Midlands province where most minerals were being explored get funding to develop the infrastructure in those areas.
“We want processing plants especially here in Kwekwe where we have vast deposits of gold,” he said.
“We want the gold to be processed here so that we add value to the minerals. Government must make sure that such areas have developed in terms of infrastructure. We can continue to extract minerals yet they are taken away to develop other areas.”
Passmore Marindire, from Mbizo in Kwekwe, said Government should also consider channelling more funds to the health sector.
“We know that Government in the past had been channelling a huge chunk to other ministries such as defence, but what is critical is the health sector,” he said.
“We are battling a cholera outbreak in Zimbabwe and dozens of people died. We could have avoided this if funds were being channelled to the health sector.”
Kwekwe City councillor Washington Moyo said Government should also help struggling local authorities.
“All the diseases we were battling like typhoid and cholera would not have occurred if our Government was allocating enough funds to local authorities to improve on service delivery,” he said.
“It’s best we equip our local authorities and by so doing, we prevent disease outbreaks and improve on service delivery.”
Chairperson of the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Finance and Economic Development, which was conducting the public hearings, Dr Matthew Musanhi, said they will capture all issues raised before tabling them in Parliament.
The consultations are being conducted countrywide as Government seeks to gather people’s views before the crafting of the 2019 National Budget.