Portraits: Zimbabwe’s Gold Miners

Portraits: Zimbabwe’s Gold Miners

Courtesy: Global Press Journal
Oliz Matope, 19, started working in Zimbabwe’s gold mining sector in 2017. He brings in about $200 a month operating a mill in the Bindura area, north of Harare, Zimbabwe’s capital.Linda Mujuru, GPJ Zimbabwe
ZimbabweGold miners in Zimbabwe, many of whom work independently, avoid cameras, but Global Press Journal’s Zimbabwean reporters earned their trust and photographed them, revealing a piece of that country’s culture that is usually kept under wraps.

Zimbabwe’s economy is a shell of its potential, but a growing number of Zimbabweans hold out hope that wealth lies literally beneath their feet, in veins of gold deposits just below the earth’s surface.

In Zimbabwe, gold miners are both everywhere and hard to find. Accustomed to spontaneous police raids and slapdash corruption among local officials, the miners tend to prefer anonymity. They move from site to site, following rumors and intuition.

This is nothing new. Enterprising Zimbabweans have for generations driven shovels into the ground to find gold and sell it on the black market. In 2014, though, the government introduced artisanal-mining permits for people who work independently or in small groups. Now, anyone can legally mine for gold, as long as the miner sells it to Fidelity Printers and Refiners, the government gold buyer. While it can be expensive to obtain all the permits and equipment required to legally mine for gold, enforcement of those rules is spotty. And Fidelity Printers and Refiners is willing to ignore violations if the miners deliver even tiny amounts of the precious metal to the government’s coffers.

For the first time, miners in some of Zimbabwe’s key gold districts agreed to be photographed up close. Global Press Journal reporters explained this project in local languages, ensuring that the miners understood that their portraits would be published in an effort to reveal this piece of their lives.

Read more of our coverage of Zimbabwe’s gold miners here.

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Qhubekani Moyo, 32, works at a gold mine near Bulawayo, Zimbabwe’s second-largest city. He and his boss together earn between $200 and $800 per month. Moyo supports a wife and two children. He says he’d always wanted to be a miner. This is the only job he’s ever had.

Fortune Moyo, GPJ Zimbabwe

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