BY BRENNA MATENDERE/STEPHEN CHADENGA
PRESIDENT Emmerson Mnangagwa yesterday pledged to descend heavily on perpetrators of machete violence, reiterating that deterrent sentences must be imposed on those found in possession of the weapons.
He was speaking at the Zimbabwe Miners Federation (ZMF) annual conference in Gweru.
“We always read in the newspapers that there are people causing lawlessness through the use of violence,” Mnangagwa said
“Your president (ZMF president Henrietta Rushwaya) told me that the people involved are not real miners. They are people who do not have mining papers. So what I am saying is that anyone found with machetes must be jailed.”
Several senior government officials, including State Security minister Owen Ncube, have been accused of protecting artisanal miners who commit violence using machetes, and are never arrested.
Terror groups from Kwekwe and Shurugwi have been a menace in several parts of the country, with residents in areas like Bindura and Mazowe complaining that they commit the crimes with impunity due to their links to senior government officials.
Mnangagwa also pledged to reduce mining claims of big conglomerates that are lying idle and distribute to needy artisanal miners, popularly known as makorokoza.
“We hear that there are companies established 1 000 years or 800 years ago which own mines that are lying idle. Are the companies still in existence? We are going to be cutting the numbers of such claims owned by these big companies,” he said.
Mnangagwa also promised to come up with a law that will address concerns of artisanal miners so that government achieves a target of US$12 billion revenue from mining by 2023.
Currently, mining revenue per year in the country is $3 billion.
“We need to come up with a law that addresses challenges faced by miners. The broader goal is that we must reach the US$12 billion milestone by 2023. This is the vision that we have set. All miners must work hard to achieve this vision,” Mnangagwa said.
Meanwhile, Zanu PF officials yesterday turned the miners’ indaba into a party function after mobilising resources to bus hordes of supporters from different parts of the Midlands province to the event.
Earlier on while Mnangagwa was in a closed-door meeting with ZMF officials, Zanu PF supporters clad in party regalia entertained themselves at the main venue dancing to songs that glorify the President such as ED Pfee and Kutonga Kwaro.
Some of the supporters could be heard chatting welcoming each other “to the rally”, unbeknown to them that it was a business conference.
Mnangagwa also chanted party slogans.
Rushwaya boasted that she had managed to fill the venue with people and had, therefore, not “embarrassed the President”.
She said the federation was committed to serving the nation and would play its part in the economic turnaround of the country if it got full support from government.
According to sources, Gweru and Kwekwe were allocated 2 000 litres of fuel to ferry party supporters to the event.