16 July 2017

Zimbabwe: Sex, Cash, Booze Galore at Eldorado

Photo: Shepherd Tozvireva/Zimbabwe Standard
Managers at Eldorado mine talking to The Standard reporter.

THE normally quiet and poor surroundings of the Hunyani area just outside Chinhoyi was temporarily turned into a hive of activity following a gold rush triggered by Zanu PF meddling at the gold rich Eldorado mine, which is under curatorship.

Sex workers flocked from Chinhoyi town to the usually quiet mining compound after hundreds of illegal gold panners who had found their way into the mine tunnels struck gold and went on a spending spree which at times turned violent.

A bar lady at the compound, Gloria Mhindu, said sales of opaque beer went up and commercial sex workers worked over time as illegal panners mostly from Kwekwe and Shurugwi hit gold.

"Our sales were amazing. There was a lot of activity here, the panners would drink throughout the night and they also bought cars. This community had less than five cars but now they are everywhere like wheelbarrows," she said.

Nicknamed "Mashurugwi," the illegal gold panners from Shurugwi and Kwekwe often clashed over women, after getting drunk or over gold ore extracted from dangerous mining tunnels at Eldorado.

"These guys are dare devils. they are violent and are not afraid of doing the impossible to get money, they would beat up people and many here were hacked with machetes," said Bigboy Chitare.

Pole and dagger structures that surround the mining compound had turned into lodgings with panners paying around $3 a day just to rest and entertain girls.

Ennet Marimbe said while the gold rush increased activity and money changed hands for a while in the area bringing food on the tables of the predominately farm workers in the community, locals did not get much.

"Our locals don't really know this gold thing and they are not as adventurous as Mashurugwi, the real money was taken by these guys from outside and they spent it like there is no tomorrow," she said.

However, the recent violent sealing off of Eldorado mine by police and mine owners has now affected the community because spending has dropped.

About 29 illegal panners who were renting the huts are now lodging at the Chinhoyi remand prison after they were bail.

Marimbe who used to collect $15 a day from her huts now has nothing and says if the mine is successful in shutting out the panners then poverty will hit again.

"They spend their money in Harare and nothing comes to this community but these illegal panners spend it here in our homes, its instant cash and it benefits for us," she said.


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