7 injured in gold mining clashes

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BY MOSES MATENGA/SHARON BUWERIMWE/TATENDA CHITAGU
AT least seven people were seriously injured after a machete-wielding gang reportedly aligned to former Zanu PF youth league provincial chairperson for Mashonaland West, Vengai Musengi, ran amok and attacked fellow party youths in a fight over mining claims in Chegutu East.

Police in the province could not immediately confirm the clashes yesterday, but victims of the violent attacks said the clashes occurred last week.

The victims said they could identify the assailants, but were afraid to name them since they were known criminals in the province who were already on the police wanted list.

Musengi was not immediately available for comment yesterday, but sources said the attackers were aligned to him.

Zanu PF youths have been fighting over the gold claims, with Musengi reportedly using his closeness to chefs to ride roughshod over others.

“ln 2018, Musengi came with Tendai Chirau, Zanu PF acting youth league secretary, and removed Zuva Rabuda Empowerment Trust. He left Gidi Seven Mining Co-operative led by a youth who was fronting him,” a source close to the developments said.

“That youth was not getting anything from 2018, and he now wants to come to where the rest are and work with Zuva Rabuda. He also alleged that Gidi Seven Mining was not paying people, but he took the money claiming that he was taking it to some chefs.

“Chirau has since distanced himself from Gidi Seven Mining saying he acted without getting proper information from Musengi.”

The source added that an arrangement was made to unite Zuva Rabuda and the community, including members of the Zanu PF main wing and the youth wing in the province.

“We set up an executive to replace the one left by Musengi and that is when all hell broke loose,” the source said.

They said they served a notice of their new executive to all government departments and demanded meetings with the Chegutu East Zanu PF leadership, who endorsed the new structures.

“The gang became violent when the new structures were being installed. The night after the meeting, a gang came armed with machetes and started beating up everyone they came across. They used axes and destroyed tuckshops and small operations in the mining area,” the source added.

A police report was made. However, acting provincial police spokesperson for Mashonaland West province Assistant Inspector Ian Kohwera said he had not yet received the report on the violence. “I’m not aware of the incident. I haven’t received the report yet, and if I get something, I will get back to you,” he said.

Chegutu East MP Webster Shamu said he was yet to gather more information on the matter.

“I am yet to gather more on that, but obviously we condemn all forms of violence. Our President Emmerson Mnangagwa has been very clear, including at the last politburo meeting, that we do not want violence as a party and this should stop,” Shamu said.

Musengi has been fingered in most violent clashes in Mashonaland West, including the chaos that rocked provincial elections where he was also a contestant, but lost to Mary Mliswa-Chikoka.

In a related matter, a Zanu PF provincial co-ordinating committee meeting in Masvingo had to be aborted yesterday after rival youths clashed, resulting in one person being injured.

The clashes happened between supporters of the Masvingo Provincial Affirs minister Ezra Chadzamira and those of Zaka North MP Robson Mavhenyengwa.

Chadzamira lost the provincial chairmanship to Mavhenyengwa.

The meeting, the first after the provincial elections, was supposed to be held at the Great Zimbabwe University’s Robert Mugabe School of Education in the industrial area.

But riot police had to be called in to contain the situation as rival bussed-in youths engaged in running battles.

The disagreements were over the party structures that constituted the district electoral college, which should consist of 40 people in the youth wing, 40 from the women’s league, and 40 from the main wing.

Masvingo provincial police spokesperson Inspector Kudakwashe Dhewa referred all questions to national police spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi, who could not be reached for comment.

Zanu PF politburo member and party secretary for security Lovemore Matuke said the meeting was deferred to a yet to be decided date.

“Some hired youths, who may not be party members, came to disrupt the elections. It’s unfortunate that some party members do not want to accept the reality and move on. After all, the politburo and our President said those with grievances should follow proper party procedures if they have grievances,” Matuke said.

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