Penhalonga, Mutare – The dramatic rescue of 15 miners trapped for days in a collapsed shaft at Redwing Mine has ignited a bitter war of words between the government and opposition forces, each claiming credit for the successful operation.
With official rescue efforts still in their early stages, the miners reportedly dug their way to freedom after being trapped for over 72 hours.
Farai Maguwu, Director of the Centre for Natural Resource Governance, celebrated their perseverance, stating, “My heart rejoices. Congrats to the Penhalonga miners who fought their way to the surface – working nonstop to rescue themselves for more than 3 days. They refused to give up hope. Give them formal mining jobs and further training in underground operations.”
The official narrative, however, paints a different picture.
Presidential Spokesperson George Charamba acknowledged the miners’ resilience but emphasized the government’s role in coordinating the rescue, highlighting the “scientific support” provided by the Zimbabwe Institute of Geoscience and Astronomy (ZINGSA) in locating the miners.
“The latest from the 11 trapped miners at Metallon Gold Mine is that 4 of their number have been rescued alive, raising hopes that the remaining miners may still be alive,” Charamba stated, subtly emphasizing the government’s involvement.
Pro-opposition and civil society figures have countered the government’s claims, pointing to the slow initial response and inadequate safety measures at the mine, which has a history of fatal accidents. They argue that the miners’ resourcefulness and the community’s unwavering support ultimately secured their freedom.
The joyful reunion of the miners and their families is overshadowed by this political squabble. Both sides use the incident to further their agendas, while crucial questions about mine safety and the plight of artisanal miners remain unaddressed.