By Lovejoy Mutongwiza
President Emmerson Mnangagwa yesterday threatened long jail terms on menacing illegal gold miners known as Mashurugwi accused of terrorizing communities with machetes in broad day light.
The unpopular group mainly operates in the Midlands province, particularly, the gold-rich Shurugwi area and have of late, expanded their influence to Mashonaland Central province and Mashonaland Provinces which are hotbeds for gold panning.
There has been a long-standing belief that the rogue bloodthirsty illegal miners are politically connected and enjoy immunity from the political bigwigs who have vested interests in the illegal mining activities.
“We have heard through the media about the lawlessness from among artisanal miners, some invading other people’s mines while armed with machetes,” Mnangagwa said during the official opening of the Artisanal and Small-Scale Miners Conference hosted by the Zimbabwe Miners Federation (ZMF) in Gweru.
He said such violent clashes should stop forthwith.
“We have said we don’t want this, anyone found in possession of these dangerous weapons should be arrested and jailed,” he added.
Mnangagwa called for the protection of artisanal miners whom he said contribute significantly towards the gold delivery in the country.
He said his government will continue to channel financial resources towards the revitalisation of the industry.
“We introduced a use it or lose it policy. Under this policy, the Government is repossessing mining claims that are owned by big companies but were not being utilised.
“We urge the Zimbabwe Miners Federation to send such mining claims to the responsible ministry if they have them in their books,” he said.
Zimbabwe is targeting a US$12 Billion mining industry by 2023 and artisanal mining is relatively seen as one of the key contributors to this since its believed that it brings more than 30% of total gold earnings for the country.