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‘Ban Blood Gold Machete Gangs’

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Heal Zimbabwe Trust Director Rashid Mahiya has proposed a ban on the trading of gold from illegal and menacing machete-wielding gangs  saying it creates wrong perception about the country’s extractive sector.

The gangs, popularly known as Mashurugwi have been on a killing and violent crimes spree using machetes,  axes, knobkerries and knives across the country amid fears that they are enjoying protection from the highest offices in the land.

Mahiya said the quest for gold has moved from being economical to a serious threat to human life where serious crimes are being committed under the guise of gold mining hence the need for the government and CSOs to have an engagement which will reduce the gold rush.

 “What is the value of gold when it is a threat to human life? After all, is the nation even benefitting from it or it’s just a preserve for the elite. Where is the gold even being sold to, who is buying the gold from these gangs?  

“As citizens, we have the right to ask those questions. Why is important that we protect criminals at the expense of citizens all because of gold? Why do we need to allow people to kill each other because we are getting out of it? That’s why we call is bloody gold,” Mahiya said.

 He said what is needed is for the president, Emmerson Mnangagwa, to put his foot down and empower the security forces to deal with the criminals but alleged that impunity from the highest office in the land could be a sign of all things wrong in the fight against the gangs.

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He said the gangs enjoy protection from the political bigwigs hence it difficult to address the issue.

“The reason why there is no accountability of these criminals is because of the patronage system. These are not just ordinary citizens who are going about their business, for them to access mineral recourse they have, they go through a system.

“There is a selection process and it is done in a partisan way and it’s also difficult for law enforcement agents to interfere. These criminal are connected to people in high offices,” he said.

He said the president, as head of the state, should show the will power to deal with the gangs and not protect them under the guise that they contribute immensely to the economy.

Artisanal mining is believed to contribute more than 40% of all gold output in the country.

“The president has the responsibility to make sure those that are going about their legal (mining) business are protected while those that do so illegally are brought before the courts.

“You do not protect murderers under the pretext that they are improving the economy, that then explains why we should call it bloody gold,” Mahiya further stated.

The gangs have become a law unto themselves as on Tuesday they stormed a police station in Gokwe in an effort to “rescue” some of their own who were arrested for committed various crimes.

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The gang had hired two kombis in Kadoma to take them to Zenda, almost 300km away, where their colleagues had been detained, waiting to be transferred to Gokwe North’s Nembudziya Police Station.

The police have been sending warnings to the gangs, which seem not to be heeded as the crimes are reported on a daily basis.

“The use of machetes in mining and other areas will not be tolerated…” the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) tweeted Wednesday afternoon before late afternoon reports that 14 illegal miners were arrested at Jumbo Mine in Mazowe with 11 machetes and 423 explosives.

Yesterday, the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Mines and Mining Development advocated for stringent penalties for the machete gangs.

Committee chairperson Edmond Mukaratigwa said there should be conversations on ways to deal with the criminals.

“The committee further resolved that government kick-starts legislative procedures to allow for stiffer penalties with regard to such perpetrators as was done in the Criminal Procedure and Evidence Act regarding the vandalism of railway and electrical material, among others,” said Mukaratigwa.

However, Mahiya believes the state might lose the battle if the state security apparatus are not empowered.

According to police reports, the gangs have killed over 100 people in gold wars.

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Multi-award winning journalist/photojournalist with keen interests in politics, youth, child rights, women and development issues. Follow Lovejoy On Twitter @L_JayMut

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