Rethinking Pro-Active Disaster Planning in the Workplace: The Case of a Selected Mine in Zimbabwe

Langtone Maunganidze, Farai Ncube, Peter Sibanda


In the history of the mining sector in Zimbabwe, one occupational disaster that evokes sad memories is the 6June 1972 Kamandama incident at Hwange Colliery Company that claimed 427 miners. One of the challengesconfronting the mining sector is capacity to prepare for such uncertainties and complexities. Events such as therescue of trapped miners in Chile, and the recent Zimbabwean Platinum mine case in which 78 workers weretrapped underground although successfully rescued are one of the few cases that have brought about aheightened global consciousness of the need for effective disaster and crisis management practices. This paperexplores the nature and extent of the emergency or disaster preparedness of mining sector in Zimbabwe usingthe case of ABC mine’s (not its real name) experiences and practices. The study which is influenced bypostmodernism, adopts a predominantly qualitative research design. It uses a mixture of both primary andsecondary data. The paper’s central argument is that contemporary pro-active planning processes havelimitations in as far as helping companies cope with the complex challenges such as disasters or emergencies.Emergencies and disasters are relatively ‘wicked’ problems which may only be managed by use of ‘post-normal’planning strategies. In a world of such complex and shadowy possibilities organizations do not know if theirstrategies are appropriate or what consequences might be. The idea of ‘pro-active’ planning is a mirage that onlyserves to perpetuate the illusion that risk to workplace disasters is controllable or manageable. Overall, most ofthe prevention, response and post- recovery initiatives, are effectively managerial devices or representations toenhance the reputation of the organization.

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