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ZWRDT empowers women, fights illegal mining
Thabani Dube, The Zimbabwean
October 22, 2013

The Zimbabwe Women Rural Development Trust has trained and registered 35 miners, mainly women, while more gold-panners are targeted in a bid to eradicate illegal mining in the country.

ZWRDT Director Sarudzai Washaya told The Zimbabwean that after realising that the marginalised rural women folk thought mining was a man’s job she decided to tackle the issue head-on.

“Training and empowering women to become legal miners is meant to end illegal mining that has contributed to a lot of negative things, such as land degradation, crime and death. It is also meant to promote women’s participation in the sector,” she said.

“After training them we form cooperatives with constitution and leadership and provide them with entrepreneurial skills so that when they realise profits they invest it.”

The trust works with various experts in from AREX, the Environment Management Agency, the Zimbabwe Republic Police, mining experts and government ministries. Washaya said prospective miners get mining land by getting approval letters from their local Chiefs, District Administrators.

“After securing mining land we assist them to engage the Ministry of mines and Mining Commission to get a Prospecting License and Certificate of Registration, which cost roughly $500,” she said.

Besides mining the organisation also promotes commercial agricultural and tourism activities in their communities since its establishment in 2007 before introducing mining last year.

ZWRDT was founded in 2007 in Mashonaland East Province and later spread to Matabeleland South and Midlands. It is run by a board of five trustees - three women and two men. It has three categories: agriculture with over 700 members, tourism - composed of 50 groups of 10 members each and 35 miners.

“Interested people pay a once off $20 joining fee and are trained and given capital in the form of mining equipment like compressors, water pumps and millers to start their own projects as cooperatives,” she said.

Mining activities are mainly concentrated in Gwanda and Gokwe where they extract gold, copper, coal, quarts, iron and agate - used to make jewelleries.

In Gokwe, Tashinga Women Gold Mine was registered as a cooperative in Masoro Village and two more cooperatives, in Gwanda and Empress, are in the process of registering.

“Mining requires machinery and our challenge with rural people is that they live far apart. It is difficult to have a central point to encourage team work. At the end of the day members of the cooperative rotationally use the machines. But transporting the equipment is another problem,” added Washaya.

The lack of motor vehicle to reach remote areas for training was hindering progress. “We use public transport when we go to train and engage our members of the group. Lack of bank loans and investors is also affecting our business. We were hoping to partner with Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe to keep the gold that we mine so as to have it as collateral to enable members to borrow money from banks,” she said.

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