ZIMBABWE Still Maintains Proper Management of the Minimata Convention Despite Covid-19 Outbreak .

By Nevson Mpofu

Environmental Management Services Director, Steady Kangata
Environmental Management Services Director, Steady Kangata

Environmental Management Agency has given its way into the future outlining that it still maintains its proper management of Mercury effects on human health despite covid-19 pandemic outbreak .Among other countries in Africa signatory to the Minimata Convention Zimbabwe is in a bid to efficiently manage well Mercury so that it confirms hard work done to reduce effects of mercury to mining communities .

EMA, Environmental Management Services Director, Steady Kangata has opened up again on health issues highlighting that covid-19 being a new baby on the block to affect small scale and artisanal miners, there are other challenges of health concern to miners. On a telephone interview Kangata adds on that 3,5 million people miners and non are close to danger of mercury in mining areas where illegal activities are done.

”I understand covid-19 takes a new step into this World threatening lives of especially small and artisanal miners but we still have to keep an eye on managing health issues related to Minimata Convention. This is possible with us. It is our responsibility because there are 3,5 million people facing danger. Among them, the big number is women” , adds Kangata

”We have robust measures to control mercury through borders, in its use to minimize, reduce, or automatically eliminate it because it is health hazardous especially to women and children.

”Mercury has always been under control in the country since those found using it un-properly are arrested or fined depending on volumes they have. Mercury affects according to volumes used, age of person exposed to and type of mercury. We control mercury, manage its proper use but we urge miners to do it responsibly. We are not saying we are to burn mercury. What we say is let us use it properly not to the disadvantage of our children, women and others. In-fact we have done enough to reduce its effects on human lives. ”

Kangata continues to explore that mercury control is done for miners’ human health. EMA has had campaigns launched on 24 july- 2018. He added it was done because mercury had effects on women and children. Its effects have had impacts in areas like Chakari , Kadoma , Battle-Fields and in parts of Mashonaland west and East .

Mercury is used to extract ore from gold. It becomes effective if the process involves burning of amalgam that results in mercury evaporating in air. There are two methods used in gold extraction. These are Borax and Chemical Leaching. Mercury gets released in rivers. It affects then those who consume the water like children who do not know effects related and consequences attached ..

”Children are extremely at risk as they drink contaminated water, eat food with hands contaminated, eat contaminated food and play around spilling it around. Women also bear the brunt because they fetch water from rivers. They are the first victims followed by children because they drink it , cook , do all sorts of domestic uses . Mercury affects seriously pregnant women. It affects the baby. Normally such babies face challenges in life.

Emmanuel Nhariswa EMA, Education and Publicity Officer speaking to this Journalist adds that with corona at hand still women and children face more and more challenges arising from the outbreak of the new pandemic, corona-virus.

”We still maintain the same standards in the management of mercury during this era of covid-19. As EMA we are into Environment but still we are concerned with issues of Small-Scale and Artisanal miners at heart.

Zimbabwe is signatory to the Minimata Convention that has 128 signatories and 105 parties. The Convention was adopted on 10 October 2013 at a gathering of International top delegates in Kunamato, Japan. It has the International Negotiating Committee on Mercury which had the 5th session in Geneva 19 January, 2013 before its final launch.

The Convention manages Health of miners who are actually the ones more at close contact. They use it every-day in extracting gold from ore. Over recent years Zimbabwe has come out with 24,8 tons of gold in 2017 which raised the Gross Domestic Product [GDP]

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