Blessings Chidakwa in Kadoma
Government departments charged with ensuring the maintenance of high safety standards should thoroughly inspect mining areas to preserve the lives of mine workers, First Lady Auxillia Mnangagwa has said.
She also called on Government to enforce stiff laws and penalties on miners who continue operations when they have been advised to stop for safety reasons.
The First Lady was speaking after visiting the Battlefields mine disaster site in Mhondoro-Ngezi where she consoled and donated an assortment of food hampers to bereaved families.
Twenty-four artisanal miners perished when shafts and tunnels at Silvermoon and Cricket No. 3 mines where flooded on Tuesday last week after a heavy downpour in the area.
Eight other miners were rescued after spending four days in neck-deep water after the floods.
“Our children will be looking for survival means as most are now fathers looking after their families. However, l would like to implore the mine owners, Ministry of Mines and Mining Development officials and the Environmental Management Agency that mines like this need thorough inspection.
“Government should enforce stiffer laws to mine owners who ignore directives to stop mining operations since they should strictly adhere to that,” she said.
She urged security forces and Government leaders across Zimbabwe to monitor the mines that pose danger while ensuring that dangerous mines are closed.
“We are saddened due to the loss of these children, we never thought that on a day like this we would be gathered here. I want to applaud Mashonaland West Province for your unity and hard work during the rescue and retrieving process.
“You managed to offer assistance regardless of political or personal backgrounds. I also want to applaud major local mining firms like Zimplats as well as individuals whose helping hand has gone a long way in assisting the miners,” she said.
“The deceased were still very young coming across all over the country some from Mt Darwin, Mutoko, Gokwe; this mining place was unifying all the people.”
Minister Mliswa-Chikoka also hailed President Mnangagwa for declaring the tragedy a State of Disaster, assisting the province in rescuing the artisanal miners while giving decent burials to the deceased.
Environment, Tourism and Hospitality Industry Minister Prisca Mupfumira thanked the First Lady for the assistance to the bereaved families.