By Anna Chibamu
PROMINENT politicians and church leaders have been named as key figures fuelling the spread of machete wielding gangsters, Mashurugwi, who are perpetrating violence in some parts of the country targeting gold miners.
The claims were made Friday by the Parliamentary Chairperson on the Mines and Mining Committee, Edmond Mkaratigwa who said the violence was now a national security threat.
If left uncontrolled, he said, it had all the ingredients of turning into genocides that were witnessed in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Rwanda.
“From investigations that are on-going, allegations are pointing to the effect that prominent people such as politicians and church leaders are running the unruly gangs to make a fortune,” he said.
He was addressing legislators, government officials, police and other mining officials at a dialogue meeting organised by the Zimbabwe Environmental Law Association (ZELA) on the on-going havoc being perpetrated by the armed gangs.
“Machete wielding gangs are now a security threat and fears are they might turn into militias such as the ones in the DRC and Rwanda,” said Mkaratigwa.
“The prevailing situation in the mining sector right now is worrisome. It is now a national security. The violence has now spread to the manufacturing industries, residential areas and not just in the gold mining areas.
“…These machete wielding gangs have no control and are disrupting mining activities.
“A lot of allegations are coming out that those rich people have taken over these unruly gangs. Prominent people have been implicated, politicians and church leaders. We are going to do investigations on camera.”
He said the terror has resulted in gold mining reduction.
“Investment drive is going backwards and gangs might turn into militias and cause a civil war resulting in artisanal miners running away from production sites.
He went on to call for Minister of Mines Winston Chitando to act swiftly on the issue of resolving the crisis in his ministry as the issuance of mining permits was one of the reasons behind machete wars.
Participants at the meeting also expressed concern on why Chitando had not come out in the public on the issue of the machete gangs.
It was also noted during the meeting that areas seriously affected by the gang violence were Kitsiyatota in Bindura, Vuvha in Gwanda and Jumbo Mine in Mazowe.
The Zimbabwe Miners’ Federation president, Wellington Takavarasha said group production was set to drop this year to 17 tonnes, down from 22 tonnes produced in 2016.