The Human Rights Day can no longer be celebrated blind to the realities facing our communities. Epidemic poverty and unemployment levels are driving our people into old mine shafts to scavenge for the very “gold” of survival. This day cannot be celebrated while the dependency, desperation, violent killings and exploitation of the Zama Zamas by both mining companies and criminal syndicates are allowed to continue. If we fail to speak up when we see our brothers and sisters dying of excessive exposure to toxic substances such as mercury, substances which at the end contaminates our rivers, soils, vegetation and every aspect of the ecosystem, then we are failing ourselves.

We cannot exclude Zama Zamas from society. Zama Zama’ are our brothers, sisters, mothers, fathers and after all community members. They, like all of us, have human rights guaranteed by the bill of rights and the constitution of SA. They risk their lives every day to escape poverty and unemployment. In a country beset by unemployment and the social ills this brings, MACUA is proud to lead this discussion towards finding alternatives solutions to the corporate plunder which leads to the impoverishment and criminalisation of our people.