Bulawayo, June 09, 2016 – The face of Nomusa Dube, 40, is dusted red with soil as she and her five female colleagues take a brief lunch break. They have been working since dawn on their gold claim in Esigodini, 49 kilometres from Bulawayo along the Bulawayo-Beitbridge road.
She joined the male-dominated industry in 2014 after her husband succumbed to cancer in 2013. “By that time, I saw my world crumbling as I had nowhere to turn to. Two of my children were at high school and three at primary level. Therefore, I was supposed to pay for their school fees, clothe and feed them,” Dube said, checking the sun’s position – a traditional old practice of estimating time – ready to go back to work.
She tried vending in Bulawayo, but with little success. Low returns, and constant raids from municipality police confiscating their wares sucked her strength. In 2013, government invited women to take up mining to supplement their living and Dube was one of the first to respond.
She joined other ‘brave’ women to form an association called United Women Miners Association (UWMA).
The association now boasts of more than 600 members and has over 80 gold claims. Their first mining project was in Umzingwane district in Matabeleland South.
“Since that was our first project, we didn’t realise much due to lack of experience. However, through government and other stakeholders’ support, we managed to pull through,” she said. Since then, Dube has never looked back.
“With mining now, I can safely say that I am living. I am able to pay school fees for my children and feed them,” she said.
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