Oliver Kazunga, Senior Business Reporter
FIDELITY Printers and Refiners has bemoaned the low uptake of loans under the US$20 million that was set aside by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe to promote mining ventures by women in mining.
In 2016, the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe created a US$150 million Gold Development Initiative Fund of which US$20 million was set aside to support gold mining projects by women.
In March this year, Fidelity Printers and Refiners announced that it had since the inception of the fund disbursed US$120 million in support of the small-scale gold miners operations.
Speaking during the Women in Mining Conference in Bulawayo on Wednesday, a senior official from Fidelity Printers and Refiners who runs the women’s desk, Mrs Charity Moyo, said many women were yet to benefit from the facility.
“A total of US$20 million was reserved for women and when we came during the last Mine Entra, we were still talking about the US$20 million reserved for women. To date it’s sad to note less than 10 percent of women have brought applications or even approached us or called us, she said.
“This is despite us attending several conferences where we speak about this fund.”
The Gold Development Initiative Fund was created as part of the Government’s initiative to enhance productivity through the promotion and development of the gold mining industry in Zimbabwe.
“However, through several interactions that I have had with a number of women, it seems there are quite a couple of issues that included lack of claims. Women don’t have the claims and I am glad that Mr Moyo (Mines and Mining Development Permanent Secretary) today clarified, various processes that you need to do in order to get a claim,” she said.
Mrs Moyo said the gold fund was primarily for the acquisition of gold mining plant and equipment in order to enhance production by miners. Fidelity Printers and Refiners, she said, was there to provide financial solutions to gold mining problems, empowerment tools to the Zimbabwean gold miners, improved gold deliveries to Fidelity Printers and Refiners and export value for Zimbabwe.
The other issue that was contributing to the low uptake of loans by women is lack of collateral.
“The US$20 million fund that was reserved for women I can gladly say that we do not require immovable collateral, we do not require you to bring a house as security because we are aware of the challenges that women have.
“The other challenge that women have relates to lack of skills and I’m glad that we have partnered with the Zimbabwe School of Mines, where all you need to do is to attend and we provide everything including the pen. In a few weeks time, we will be having our first training this year in Mashonaland Central,” she said.
Mrs Moyo said the low uptake of loans under the Gold Development Initiative Fund by women was also due to the fear of the bloody mining disputes.
“I think that the Ministry of Mines and Mining Development obviously with the Ministry of Women Affairs, Community, Small and Medium Enterprises Development, really need to assist on this one,” she said
Earlier in her speech, the Zimbabwe Miners’ Federation president, Ms Henrietta Rushwaya, said the number of women participating in Zimbabwe’s mining industry was 10 percent of the total number registered in mining either legal or illegal. This, she said, means 3 000 are formally registered and 150 000 are operating illegally.
“Women’s participation has been relegated to the periphery although they have been historically involved in mining doing sluicing, mercury gold amalgamation, and hand-milling and vending,” she said. — @okazunga.