BY STEPHEN CHADENGA/TERRY MADYAUTA
ZIMBABWE Christian Alliance (ZCA) executive director Useni Sibanda said artisanal miners should desist from being nomadic and work within their confines to avoid clashes with rival gangs.
Speaking at a workshop for artisanal miners in Gweru last Friday, Sibanda said gold panners were invading each other’s claims, fuelling machete wars, thereby causing loss of lives.
“We read reports of artisanal miners referring to themselves as MaShurugwi and MaFilabusi, going as far as Mazowe (in search of gold),” he said.
“If you are into mining, you just don’t have to invade other people’s claims. It’s key for people to respect the rule of law, value life and avoid terrorising innocent people.”
Sibanda said some of the miners were not doing things properly and that often fuelled the fights.
“We have some who move around in gangs, attacking people and boasting that they can use weapons whenever they want. But that is not good, because society is now full of despair because of that,” he said.
Sibanda said artisanal miners should strive to regularise their operations in order to bring sanity and peace in the mining sector.
Women Alliance of Business Association chairperson Grace Makarutsa said women in mining were the worst affected by the machete wars.
“Women in artisanal mining are vulnerable, considering the prevailing situation of machete-wielding gangs,” she said.
“We call on the government to intervene and protect the interests of women, and also to ensure that everyone operates legally.”
Police at the meeting said there were facing difficulties in dealing with gold panners, saying assaults from machetes and other dangerous weapons were on the rise.
They said they had introduced awareness campaigns to stop the violence caused by artisanal miners.