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Gaseous coal substances exposes Hwange residents to TB

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BY NOKUTHABA DLAMINI 

In the scorching sun, Litha Ncube and her nine-year-old daughter are armed with hoes and shovels as they make way to a dumpsite to scavenge for a precious by-product of coal, coke.

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The poverty-stricken widow from Hwange’s Madumabisa Village says she has no option but to scrounge for the product in a life-threatening environment that has claimed the lives of many. This is her only means of survival. 

As she digs the dumpsite without any Personal Protective Clothing (PPE) such as the surgical mask, her daughter’s task is to pick and separate the coke from the chaff and fill a 50-kilogramme sack. This quantity of coke fetches US$5, which she says helps to sustain her family.

Her husband died at the height of Covid-19 pandemic in 2021 after he was diagnosed with Tubercolosis (TB) which he  contracted due to inhaling of coal dust at the same dumpsite. 

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Ncube was also diagnosed and it took her over 12 months to fully recover. 

“If I stop, who will support my children?” Ncube quizzes as she continues to dig. 

 

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Ncube is among the many women in Hwange who have resorted to trespassing into the Hwange Colliery Company Limited (HCCL) dumpsite in search of coke, which they resell to make ends meet.

TB is one of the leading causes of death in Zimbabwe. 

According to Community Working Group on Health, about 6 300 Zimbabweans die of TB each year despite it being preventable and curable.

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The African region has the second-highest tuberculosis burden worldwide, after Southeast Asia. under the World Health Organisation End Tuberculosis Strategy, countries should aim to reduce TB cases by 80% and cut deaths by 90% by 2030 compared with 2015.

According to National Mine Workers Union of Zimbabwe president Kurebwa Javangwe Nomboka, gaseous substances from coal dusts have left many Hwange villagers and residents exposed to TB, although many are not documented. 

‘The prevalence of TB is very high, but undocumented in the areas we have done programs which are around the mining community of Hwange,” Nomboka told VicFallsLive

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“Coal is the commonly mined mineral in the area  and is well known for its combustible nature and the emission of dangerous poisonous gases.”

Nomboka says apart from residents such as Ncube, the scourge is higher in the mining companies, largely Chinese owned. 

He says the mostly affected are underground miners and even those involved in the processing of coal to coking coke.

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” Examples of areas with a high risk of TB which my team have visited are HC, Hwange Coal Gasification and South Mining,” he revealed. 

“The environment in these mines is heavily embroidered or engulfed with coal dust and gaseous substances which causes a high risk of TB and other related diseases like Pneumoconiosis.” 

These heavy dusts and gaseous substances, Nomboka says are also evident in the residential areas and thus posing a risk to the families of miners.

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” At Hwange  Coal  Gasification at times the whole complex is engulfed with gaseous substances to an extent that you won’t even be in a position to see buildings or people around you,” 

“Besides the dust and gaseous substances there is immense heat that comes out from the furnaces and the personnel working such under environments are spotted with improper and inadequate PPEs and the issue  in these mines has become of lesser priority as it is only acquired when we raise a red flag as a union.”

Nomboka said the PPEs being acquired does not meet the standard required under the Mining industry safety regulations leaving workers vulnerable to contracting TB and other related diseases.  

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” As a trade union we have reigned in on these defaulting companies to comply with the mining safety regulations and those found not to be in compliance with the regulations have had to be litigated against in order for them to comply,” Nomboka revealed. 

“The country needs to adopt stern measures on those who fail to comply with mining safety regulations by enacting laws which provide for hefty fines for companies who fail to provide safety nets for their employees and proper and adequate protective clothing.”

 

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Speeding into the spotlight: Tsessebe makes rare appearance in Panda Masuie Forest

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IMAGE: Wild Is Life and ZEN

BY NOKUTHABA DLAMINI

In a groundbreaking discovery, the Wild is Life Trust and Zimbabwe Elephant Nursery (ZEN) have spotted a rare and elusive species in the conservation area near Victoria Falls – the Tsessebe, Africa’s fastest antelope.

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Camera traps in the Panda Masuie Forest captured footage of the Tsessebe, which can reach speeds of up to 90km/h.

“Panda Masuie Forest stands as a beacon of hope for biodiversity conservation in the region,” said the Wild is Life Trust in a statement. “Our camera traps revealed a rare species never seen by us in Panda Masuie – a Tsessebe.”

The footage was captured at a waterhole called Jos’ Corner, near the Botswana border. Over the course of just a few days, camera traps also captured images of many other species, including elephant, lion, eland, sable, roan, warthog, zebra, giraffe, ostrich, and ground hornbill.

The trust emphasized the significance of this discovery.

“The Tsessebe’s presence in Panda Masuie sheds light on its behaviour and ecological needs in this specific habitat, underscoring the importance of preserving natural landscapes and maintaining ecological connectivity across vast wilderness areas.”

To the organization , this incredible find is a testament to the power of collaboration and dedication to wildlife conservation.

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In a separate incident, the Victoria Falls Wildlife Trust rewilded a terrapin rescued from a poacher’s backpack near Victoria Falls Town.

The organization announced, “We’re thrilled to announce that it has been released into the Victoria Falls National Park, where it can thrive in its natural habitat… Let’s protect and preserve our precious wildlife for generations to come!”

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Zimbabwe’s search for Warriors coach nears end

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BY STAFF REPORTER 

Zimbabwe’s search for a new Warriors coach is nearing its end! After a long wait, the Zimbabwe Football Association (ZIFA) is set to announce a substantive coach for the senior men’s national team in just a few days.

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This comes after a thorough recruitment process, which included interviews with five top contenders, ZIFA said on Tuesday.

“In parallel, ZIFA is diligently working on compiling the shortlist for the Mighty Warriors Head Coach position,” ZIFA said.

“The interview process for this role is set to be completed by Monday, 29 July.

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“ZIFA remains committed to appointing the most qualified and capable coaches to lead our national teams. We believe that these appointments will significantly contribute to the development and success of Zimbabwean football on the international stage.”

The shortlisted candidates are Gerard Nus, Michael Nees, Marcio Maximo Barcellos, Antoine Hey, and Winfried Schäfer.

FIFA’s commitment to funding the coach’s salary has been a game-changer, allowing ZIFA to attract top talent.

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The association said it is determined to find the best fit to lead the Warriors to victory.

 

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Gastronomy takes center stage as Victoria Falls hosts UN tourism forum

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BY BAYANDA NKATHA

Victoria Falls is set to host the inaugural United Nations Tourism Regional Forum on Gastronomy for Africa this week, a first for the continent.

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The Ministry of Tourism and Hospitality Industry expects around 10 000 attendees, particularly on the first day, which will feature an official opening ceremony presided over by President Mnangagwa on Friday.

The conference, taking place at Elephant Hills Golf Course, will then proceed with delegates from around the world.

Zimbabwe was chosen to host the forum in recognition of first lady Auxilia Mnangagwa’s efforts to promote gastronomy tourism through her cookout competition and humanitarian work with the Angel of Hope Foundation.

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This event offers Victoria Falls the opportunity to showcase its capacity for hosting large events, as it has done in the past, and allows locals to benefit from the tourism value chain.

A UN Tourism technical delegation visited Victoria Falls two months ago and was impressed by the city’s readiness.

Tourism Minister Barbara Rwodzi confirmed that preparations are almost complete, saying, “We are ready, with preparations at 98%, and look forward to hosting the event.”

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The forum aims to empower local communities to participate in the tourism sector and benefit from the value chain.

Notably, Victoria Falls co-hosted the UN World Tourism Organisation Summit with Zambia’s Livingstone City in 2013.

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