For ages, illegal miners have plagued South Africa’s mining sector with their activities. Their shady dealings have ensured that the industry and the state continue to lose billions of rand.
Whichever way you look at it, illegal miners, colloquially known as ‘Zama zamas’ are to South Africa, whatbig problem for the country.
Mine SA 2016 Facts and Figures publication indicated that R6 billion is the annual value of illegal mining. And, you’ll quickly stop imagining what R6 billion could’ve done for the country the moment you’re informed that 70% of all illegal miners arrested are illegal immigrants.
Aside from the fact that Zama zamas endanger their lives by travelling as far as 4 kilometres underground where they live for several days, the above is enough to discourage the activities of Zama zamas in South Africa.
But, the Black First Land First (BLF) movement won’t have any of the “don’t-encourage-Zama zamas’-sermon”. The movement is in fact, delighted to be part of the struggle of the Zama zama miners.
In a media statement, the movement said:
“(We) are delighted to be part of the struggle of the Zama zama miner. We are clear as BLF that the only illegal miners in South Africa are the white settlers who took the land through violence from black people.
“We have long taken the decision to defend any black person that comes under attack from white people who have organised themselves into the criminal cartel called White Settler Monopoly Capital,” added the movement.
However, for South Africa to defeat its Zama zamas problem, the country has to create more jobs, reduce poverty and solve its illegal immigrants’ problem.
This is because increase in unemployment, poverty and the entry of large numbers of illegal immigrants into the country have all been identified as the major factors contributing to an increase in illegal mining.