BY VENERANDA LANGA
SMALL-SCALE miners yesterday said machete-wielding criminals robbing them of their gold and other minerals must get life sentences with hard labour at the country’s mines.
The issue came out in Parliament during a public hearing by the Edmond Mkaratigwa-led Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Mines after a petition by the Zimbabwe Environmental Law Association (Zela), which raised a red flag over issues affecting the mining sector.
Zela sent a petition to Parliament, raising concerns over the rate of irresponsible investments in the large-scale mining sector, where investors are not keen to ensure that mining the communities benefit.
The other issue of concern was that mining investors were leaving large tracts of land degraded, including massive pollution from toxic chemicals used in mining that are affecting the livelihoods of both humans and
Philbert Moyo, chairperson of the Norton Miners Association, suggested to Parliament that terror groups causing havoc at mines should get very stiff jail sentences.
“There is lack of policy on security in the mining sector, where small-scale miners are being targeted by machete-wielding criminals who claim to be miners, but are robbers. It is another guerrilla war and
currently, the police cannot control these terror groups,” Moyo said.
“There should be laws to protect miners and President Emmerson Mnangagwa should use his Presidential Powers to bring sanity and stop these economic saboteurs by imposing stiffer sentences like 15 years imprisonment
for those criminals that injure others as well as life sentences for those who cause loss of life.
“In fact, life sentences for the machete gangsters must be accompanied with hard labour at mines.”
Clemence Makanya, from the Gold Miners Association, said the main challenges experienced by small-scale miners ware that staff at the mines department, for example the provincial mining directors, were very slow in
solving mining disputes and as a result, some disputes took as long as 10 years to resolve.
He also said there was corruption in the pegging of mining claims to the extent that mining surveyors did double pegging, thus causing disputes.
Zimbabwe Prospectors’ Association president Samson Dzingwe said there was no need to amend the Mines and Minerals Act 21:05 in order to add issues like the mining cadastre system.
He said the mining cadastre system, which is a computerised system of pegging mining claims, will not work unless the manual system of recording claims was updated.
“The Ministry of Mines itself is causing disputes because they are pegging mining claims using tattered maps, and they are failing to update their own maps. There is also failure by incompetent staff at the Mines
ministry to interpret the Mines and Minerals Act and, as a result, there are disputes between farmers and miners,” Dzingwe said.