MIDLANDS Provincial Affairs minister Larry Mavima has warned that machete wars between artisanal miners may degenerate into a national conflict if not nipped in the bud.
BY BRENNA MATENDERE/ SIMBARASHE SITHOLE
Officially opening the Chiefs Council meeting hosted by the Zimbabwe Council of Churches (ZCC) in Gweru on Tuesday, Mavima implored traditional leaders to instil the culture of peace in artisanal miners.
“We often hear that the artisanal miners are now a menace in communities. They are using machetes to injure people. Everyday there now seems to be such cases. We will all perish if these cases of violence persist. We need peace in the country. If these small cases of violence are allowed to go on, they will become a national conflict,” he said.
Recently, the Zimbabwe Peace Project released a report indicating that between August and October this year, 105 people died in machete wars, while hundreds others were injured by Zanu PF-linked terror groups. The report said the gangsters terrorised the country’s gold-rich regions, committing heinous crimes on the back of immunity because of their government and ruling party links. In some instances, the perpetrators have been used by senior politicians to victimise opposition party supporters.
Machete war cases have been reported mainly in Midlands, but lately they have spread to other areas such as Mazowe and Kadoma.
“At the end of the day we are all Zimbabweans. We are one nation. We must find solutions to our differences without killing each other. We might have different political persuasions, but we have one country. Peace is the bedrock of any successful nation,” he said.
Chief Ngungumbani, the head of Midlands Chiefs said the traditional leaders should inculcate the spirit of ubuntu, among their subjects in order to curb the scourge.
“In some countries in the Middle East they have deepened culture. Some of the countries use Sharia law, but that is their culture. Let us develop our own culture of ubuntu to avoid such menaces as machete wars,” he said.
Police officer commanding Midlands operations, Assistant Commissioner Peter Sibanda said: “Anyone who commits a crime must be arrested. We have been doing that, but if there are complaints let them be brought forward and we will act.”
Police in Mashonaland Central province revealed that they arrested 53 artisanal gold miners at Jumbo Mine in Mazowe and Kitsiyatota in Bindura for illegal mining activities last week.
The arrests are being carried out under an ongoing blitz to net those engaged in unlawful mining operations throughout Mashonaland Central province. Twenty-seven vehicles have also been impounded in the operation.
Provincial police spokesperson Inspector Milton Mundembe confirmed the arrests.
“I can confirm the arrests of 53 illegal miners and the impounding of 27 cars at Mazowe Mine and Kitsiyatota in Bindura,” Mundembe said.
At Delta Gold’s Eureka Mine in Guruve, one of the artisanal gold miners was shot on the leg last week when he tried to attack security guards in a gold scuffle.
Chriswell Mushongahande (27) of Muroiwa village under Chief Chipuriro in Guruve is battling for life at Guruve District Hospital after he was reportedly shot by a security guard Paradzai Nyamutsenga (51).
Police officer commanding Guruve district, Robert Torevasei confirmed the incident, saying they are assisting in protecting the mine.
“One of the artisanal miner was shot by the guards after he tried to attack them using an iron bar, last week. The police had to use tear smoke to disperse them as they ran amok at the mine,” Torevasei said.
He reiterated that the illegal miners were slowly giving up on the mine after police intervention although the force was slowly moving away to focus on their core business.
“Illegal miners are now coming in small numbers since our intervention and most of the crashing machines were removed, but we are also slowly withdrawing our services because it not our core business.”
The mine is currently under care and maintenance hence a lot of local illegal miners are flocking to the place to prospect for gold.