By Staff Reporter
THE Head of the European Union (EU) delegation in Zimbabwe, Timo Olkonen has called on the government to urgently address violent machete gangs that have spiralled out of control especially in the Midlands province where village communities are living in fear.
The top EU diplomat spoke to NewZimbabwe.com after a tour of projects in Kwekwe, Gokwe, and Kadoma districts funded by the Western countries bloc.
Olkonen expressed concern that the issue of machete violence in gold mining areas had reached very alarming levels with frequent murder cases reported to the police on the increase.
“We toured Kwekwe and Gokwe and had an engagement with the civil society and non-governmental organisations. The main issue which stuck out during those interactions was the issue of violence, particularly machete violence in the mining pits,” Olkonen said.
“There is a need for the government to swiftly address the issue of violence in the artisanal mining sector. We had a discussion on the social consequences of unregulated mining activities. We gained an explanation that many young people are being engaged in artisanal mining in an uncontrolled manner.”
Meanwhile, the EU is undertaking various incoming projects in the country for the vulnerable members of communities at an estimated cost of US$50 million.
Amongst some of the projects in Kwekwe, the EU is running the inclusive poultry value chain (IPVC) project “is set to improve the livelihoods of beneficiaries and improve nutritional habits. Poultry is a good and affordable protein source,” Olkonen told NewZimbabwe.com.
The Mbizo fruit and vegetable market in Kwekwe has 1 568 chickens where project beneficiaries sell their birds and eggs from.
Another project, funded by the EU in Kwekwe is the digester, which seeks to eradicate the use of firewood in rearing chickens, and instead resort to cattle or chicken manure in the production of methane. This green technology is climate-friendly and reduces deforestation.
“Our support to agricultural projects is not limited to Midlands. So, we might now have a separate figure for Midlands since we are supporting projects nationally. The figures for the (national) support are around US$40 to US$50 million,” he said.