A portrait of Zimbabwe’s Economic Migrants - Gold Miners
To escape the desperate situation in Zimbabwe, Zimbabweans have been jumping the border into Mozambique to risk there lives for less than £2 a day illegally mining gold in the Chimanimani mountains. Manica, Mozambique. 1st September 2008
The number of migrants illegally crossing the border from Zimbabwe into Mozambique escalated wildly since the highly contested Zimbabwe elections of 2008, and although the Mozambican government have no official figures or are not monitoring the situation, NGOs working in the region estimate there are tens of thousands of Zimbabweans in the region. They come to escape the desperate situation in Zimbabwe, to earn an alternative currency and to buy Maize or Cooking Oil - both of which were used as money in Zimbabwe instead of the near worthless Zimbabwean Dollar. However, due to their illegal status and lack of documentation, the vast majority of Zimbabweans cannot take skilled work, despite their well-educated background.
I worked with a group of young men who were illegally mining gold in the foothills of the Chimanimani mountains, risking their lives in makeshift tunnels for less than £2 a day. Aside from the tragic circumstances, the group talked about an undercurrent of xenophobia in Mozambique, and their concerns that, without support, there is potential for the prejudice their counterparts faced in South Africa.