Gold miners in Migori County have bitterly warned area politicians with vested interests in the mining sector to keep off their affairs.
While speaking to PAYUKA the gold miners claimed such politicians have caused the widespread poverty being witnessed among the small-scale miners in the region.
Led by their Chairman Kephas Ojuka, the miners promised to counter the interests of a clique of “very powerful county politicians” whom they accused of being out to control the multi-million sector in the region at all cost.
Without mincing their words, the miners said that the political control of mining activities in the area has facilitated the looting of the county’s huge revenue from gold and copper.
They alleged that some senior politicians in the region have been colluding with foreign companies which have acquired mining licenses via unclear means, a move that has consequently threatened to totally push out many artisan miners from the business.
One senior politician is reported to have brought in heavy mining machines and has, through massive political influence, acquired chunks of gold-rich land sites to carry out mining at the expense of the small-miners in the region.
Nyatike MP, Tom Odege has in the recent days threatened to mobilize all the artisan miners to eject foreign investors of Chinese nationality who he accused of working in cahoots with some influential politicians in the region to exploit the local people.
He claims that the foreigners are getting protection from their politician friends, the local administration and police even when they lack proper licenses allowing them to prospect for the adored minerals in the area.
The mining sector in Migori is one of the most unexploited areas possessing massive potential to transform the region’s economic fortunes.
“Petty mining politics have become the bane of our leaders. If anyone expects to get rich by exploiting the miners, they should expect disappointment,” snapped Mr. John Genga, who said he has been in that business for the past one decade.
However, bickering among leaders, lack of skilled miners, poverty and lack of requisite mining equipment have contributed to the death of the mining industry which the government is struggling to address.
The backdrop to the grievances emanating from the small miners is both political and economic.
From the political front, the crisis arises from the fact that a few influential politicians are using their powers to drive the small miners to the peripheries.
While on the other hand, they use their financial might to mess up with the efforts of the artisans by grabbing all the available markets and leaving the helpless local miners in the hand of brokers who seriously exploit them by paying them peanuts for their hard-earned minerals.