By Takudzwa Mahove
As the biblical saying goes “man cannot live on bread alone” women miners are being advised that they cannot live on mining alone and they have been urged to invest in other income generating ventures to safeguard their profits and secure a fallback plan.
Speaking at Women’s day commemoration in Zvishavane earlier in the month Isheanopa Investments Owner Silvia Choruwa said women should diversify and use the money they get from their mines to start businesses in other sectors like horticulture or poultry. She said once one succeeds in the mining sector she should never look back but strive to grow and make a name as a successful businesswoman.
“Musaramba makatarisa pagomba chete. Mari inobva kumining iyoyo ishandisei kutanga zvimwe zvimabusiness. Mudzimai ngaaite zvimwe zvimakate kate zvake asamirira pabasa one.” (Women should not focus entirely on their mine shafts and forget everything else rather they should use the mining proceeds to start other businesses) said Choruwa to loud applause from the women who gathered for the event that was organized to commemorate women’s month.
She went on to urge fellow women to stand up for their right and not be deterred by discrimination and other forms of abuse perpetrated by men in the industry. “Mudzimai arikutanga mine yake, hamuvatyi baba vaya vedumbu vakauya vachitaura zvavanoda pamine yenyu. Munovaudza kuti mine ndeyangu mapepa angu aya woshinga semudzimai. Munhu womudzimai anosimba osimudza mureza wekuti ndichamiririra mhuri yangu” (a woman that is venturing into mining should not be intimidated by that potbellied man that comes to her mine to intimidate her. She should tell him she owns the mine and show him the ownership papers. Women should stand up and raise the flag to protect the wellbeing of their families.)
She also urged fellow women to create their own identities and not depend on their husbands for societal recognition. “Musada kuti pese pamasvika monzi ahh avandivo mukadzi waGeneral Manager vaya vekuMimosa… aiwa kah asikana itaiyi basa munzi avandimai Maphosa veHardware uyu ndiye Rumbie wemasaloon. Zivikanwa nemabasa ako kwete emurume. (women should not rely on their husbands’ job titles for identification at gatherings. Do your own things work hard and make a name for yourself. Be identified independently as the owner of a saloon or a hardware.) says Slyvia, people in the mining town call her Mai Isheanopa (after her clothing store and hardware)
Choruwa who has become a role model to many women in the mining town of Zvishavane went on to give women a brief history of her business which she started humbly with a flea market table, narrating the numerous challenges that she previously encountered on her way to the top of the business ladder. “Takatangirai pachitable cheFlea market kuMandava uko, tichimbosungwa kumaborder, tichiita mazuva matatu tisina kugeza.” (I started off on a small flea market table, I was arrested a number of times at the border and spent a number of days without taking a bath.) she narrates.
Like Sylvia Choruwa many women in the mining sector have had to face a number of challenges in an attempt to make their businesses viable. Stories of abuse, armed robberies claim ownership wrangles and gender discrimination at the offices are awash in the media. Some have been successful in overcoming and it is the hope of many that they take Choruwa’s advice and stand up for what is theirs and venture into other sectors with their profits to become recognizable brands. This will be a huge step for those that have fought tooth and nail for women empowerment in the country.