By Wallace Mawire
The report titled: ‘Gold Capitalism and Disaster Preparedness in Zimbabwe: A Preliminary Critical Report on the Battlefields Mines Disaster 2019’ was released on 22 February 2019.
The People and Earth Solidarity Law Network (PES-Lawyers), said that it releases its report on the avoidable disaster that occurred at the large-scale miner Rio-Zim Limited owned Cricket Mine and at Silver Moon Mine in the Battlefields Settlement in Mashonaland West Province, Zimbabwe on the 13th of February 2019.
The lawyers network says that the effects of the disaster are still being felt and will continue to blight the nature of environmental, social and economic justice in Zimbabwe, and by extension in the Global South.
The network says the night of Tuesday 13th February 2019 was the starting point of an inevitable disaster in Zimbabwe, as artisanal gold miners in the Mashonaland West settlement of Battlefields who had gone underground for their usual tasks of digging for ore became trapped.
Within the following few days, the magnitude of the disaster was to be felt by the nation and the world as media houses reported of over 20 miner deaths as well as reports of between 50 and 100 trapped miners.
They say that the accident exposes many issues concerning economic and environmental justice in Zimbabwe.
“These issues range from lack of disaster preparedness by the State, responsible institutions and local authorities as well as the culpability of large-scale gold miners who retain yet underutilise gold claims. The painful accident invites the need for a critique of the current nature of gold capitalism, disaster preparedness and the unequal and class nature of environmental and economic justice in Zimbabwe and by extension on developing States in the Global South”, according to the network.
According to the network, the preliminary report pieces together the reports of the ground volunteers and activists aligned to the People and Earth Solidarity Law Network (PES-Lawyers), media coverage as well as miner groups and concerned individuals and institutions. It says that lives were lost at Battlefields. It adds that the constitution nevertheless provides for the right to life, environmental rights, human dignity and health care.
“Of the latter in a disaster, the constitution states that ‘no person may be refused emergency medical treatment in any health-care institution’. All these rights were potentially violated due to the negligence, omissions and or inefficiency of State departments and private capitalists,” they said.