Residents of Matshelagabedi fear the closure of the Tati Nickel mine will have a crippling affect on their economic and social lives.
This tangible fear was obvious when The Voice visited the small village a day after the mine closed to find out what impact it will have on them.
For businessman Right Mpha, who runs a General Dealership in the village, the closing of the mine is almost a certain death sentence for his new but up-till-now prospering business.
“Eish this could kill my business. The mine-workers have been my business’ main customers since I opened shop in June this year. This is a complete disaster. My hope is the mine will reopen soon because if it does not I may be forced to closed down,” said a distressed Mpha.
The businessman went on to say that as depressing as the situation looks at the moment, he will continue trading for a while with the hope that things will improve.
Another who sees a bleak future for the village is businessman and BDP politician Phuthego Morongo Mazuwe. Mazuwe owns a business complex in the village, renting out half and running a bar from the other half.
“The mine has been good for us and its closure is a painful thing. Its closing down will not only affect our community economically but socially as well. The mine-workers were the livelihood of our businesses both small and big, informal and formal. Our businesses will surely suffer,” predicted Mazuwe grimly.
“When I say businesses I do not only refer to us traders. They are those who depended on income from the rental of their houses. Their income is gone too. Our only hope is for the government to find a partner to run the mine. The sooner this happens the better for us. I believe this will happen. My only hope is that it happens sooner than later,” he continued optimistically.
The BDP man is also concerned that the closure of the mine will have a negative affect on the village’s social life.
“The mine helped us with developments in the village. For example they built a number of houses for the underprivileged, helped electrify and equipped our daycare center and bought computers and a printer for our primary school. They did a lot of good around the village. Our hope and trust was that they would continue helping us. It’s unfortunate they have closed down,” he said.
Mazuwa went on to say the fact the there are not that many civil servants in the village makes things worse.
“If we had a big government workforce we would not feel the blow as much.”
A snap survey by The Voice team revealed that most in the village regarded the mine closure as a disaster but remained hopeful that the mine would eventually reopen and anchor the economic and social life once again.
The village’s Chief perhaps summed up the mood in the village best when he said, “We are in trouble. The mine was our livelihood. They helped us with developments in the village. The mine-workers were tenants in the village. Businesses at all levels depended on them too. We face doom and all we can do is pray to God to guide us out of this.”