By Anna Chibamu
OUTSPOKEN independent MP for Norton, Temba Mliswa has labelled as criminals, some top government officials he said were less likely to order arrests on machete wielding gangs among illegal miners blamed for several murders in the country’s different mining areas.
Mliswa was speaking during a question and answer session in parliament recently.
Directing his question to Justice Minister Ziyambi Ziyambi, Mliswa quizzed the leader of government business in the house why authorities seemed to be taking too long to arrest the so-called ‘Mashurugwi’ who were killing and maiming many villagers within the country’s mining communities.
The machete gangs are also involved in wars for mining claims among themselves while also forcibly confiscating gold from some targeted individuals and businessmen who are into small scale mining (artisanal miners).
Mliswa told National Assembly Speaker, Jacob Mudenda it was disturbing to note these killings were going on unchecked yet government had promised to deal with the notorious gangs some months back.
He went on to blame some unnamed government officials for having a hand in the mining wars.
Said Mliswa, “The honourable Minister Ziyambi Ziyambi is aware that government and the security agents have tried in vain to make sure that measures are put in place to stop the killings but nothing has transpired because the killings have continued.
“Is the minister aware that most of the people involved in the massacres are Zanu PF leaders, the same way the Land Commission reports.
“I am glad that during the just ended Zanu PF conference, honourable Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri was very clear that ‘we have criminals amongst us’ (Zanu PF officials). So how do we expect the arrest of the criminals when they are the ones involved in the killings?”
On his part, Ziyambi assured MPs the issue was being taken seriously by police.
“We are in discussion with all the enforcement agents, the courts and prosecution to ensure that we set up special courts that will deal with people killing others using machetes with a view that we can even ensure that these people are denied bail and trials are done faster than any other cases.
“Police are going to do their work to ensure that the killings do not spread to other areas and we are very serious about this issue,” Ziyambi said.
The minister warned members of the public not to abuse the word ‘machete’ because not everyone who carries that kind of a weapon was a murderer.
Recently, police reported that more than 8 000 suspected criminals and murderers using machetes had been arrested.