As many countries and people around the world have started to uneasily and cautiously prepare for an uncertain, and possibly abnormal post-COVID-19 situation, at ZELA we have continued to collect data and evidence of the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic in the mining sector and on communities. This is our 3rd series of the COVID-19: Mining Sector and Communities’ Situational Report (SitRep).
Akin to other historical plagues, the corona virus has virulently hit the globe, in its wake affecting all social and economic facets of life. People’s livelihoods have not been spared and everyone is on edge. For seven weeks, Zimbabwe has been on a lockdown which started with a 21-day lockdown effective 30 March 2020 and followed by two consecutive extensions. The latest and second lockdown extension for 14 days was announced on the 1st of May 2020. All these measures were meant to prevent and contain the spread of the virus.
All along the mining sector has been exempted from the lockdown as an essential service given its contribution to national economic development and generation of foreign currency, however subject to adoption of safety and health measures at the workplace. However, the mining exemptions did not insulate the mining sector from the domino effects of COVID-19 and the global and national lockdowns. Mining is a supply chain-based sector that relies on connected pieces, from production to market. This means, even though the numbers of infections are lower in Zimbabwe, currently standing at 36 cases as on the 10th of May 2020 with four deaths, the mining sector was affected. Consequently, continued impact assessments and public health and safety compliance monitoring remains relevant.
Structurally, this 3rd series of the SitRep is divided into six key areas; Policy and Legal Developments, Impacts and Actions of Large-Scale Mining companies, Impacts and Actions in Artisanal and Small-Scale Mining areas, Situation at Chinese owned companies, Post-COVID-19 Exit Strategies and Recommendations. In these sections we outline the impacts of COVID-19 on mining communities, artisanal small-scale miners, large scale miners and their compliance levels with public health requirements and human rights standards. We also profile actions taken by these actors and Government to prevent, treat and contain the pandemic. Special attention is paid to the level of compliance by Chinese mining companies with COVID-19 prevention measures in Zimbabwe given their poor labour, human rights, safety and health record in the country and other parts of world. Further, post-COVID-19 Exit Strategy notes are provided as recommendations for artisanal, small-scale and large-scale companies to consider applying in light of the relaxation of the lockdown.
In compiling this report, we used information gathered virtually from our network of more than 200 community monitors, artisanal and small-scale miners, media reports, Government sources and mining companies. In all this we adhere to our Safeguarding Policies and Principles of doing no harm to our communities and stakeholders. We encourage them to socially and physically distance and to stay safe.
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