Illegal miners commonly known as zama-zamas pose a great risk to themselves. The Institute for Corporate Social Development spokesperson, Mark Froy, says although illegal mining poses risks for the country’s economy, it should be acknowledged that this is an act of desperation in the face of poverty.
Froy says with mineral wealth as a huge source of the GDP and mines producing profit in the country, it is unfortunate that workers and mining communities are not equally benefiting from these mines.
Froy says the mining sector needs to be pro-active to protect labour and increase job security.
“Illegal miners do what they do at tremendous risk to themselves. It is the unfortunate reality of the situation. It is not ideal, but we can understand the motivation behind it, and the motivation is pure economics. It’s the economics of being unemployed. If someone is unemployed and has worked at the mines his whole life and gets retrenched at some point, what other skills does he have?”
Froy says in mining communities such as the Free State and the Northern Cape where commercialisation is limited, mining becomes the lifeblood of communities; and once these mines shut down, people resort to illegal mining to provide for their families.
Katleho Morapela/ Courant News