HUMAN rights watchdog, the Zimbabwe Peace Project (ZPP), has urged the Mines and Mining Development ministry to arrest the escalation of gold mine wars following recent reports of the death of 15 gold panners at Sabi Mine.
By NQOBANI NDLOVU
The suspected gold panners died in the bloody skirmishes that rocked Sabi Mine after it reopened months ago following its closure three years ago.
The violent clashes were reportedly triggered by management’s failure to restore order after panners invaded the site.
The ZPP said the gold mine wars were a cause for concern needing urgent government intervention to prevent them turning political, with disastrous consequences.
“The ZPP is worried that the tension, which sometimes takes a political identity will escalate conflict in mining communities and would like to urge the government through the Ministry of Mines to roll out the necessary interventions to arrest the situation.
“The Cabinet committee set up for this purpose should immediately discharge its mandate and arrest the situation before more lives are lost,” the ZPP said last week.
The ZPP blamed joblessness for the escalation of gold mine wars as desperate panners resort to all means to ensure they eke a living. In Bubi, Matabeleland North province and other areas, several villagers were left dead or hospitilised and nursing injuries from the skirmishes.
“The ZPP is alarmed at the escalating war for gold at Sabi Mine, which has resulted in the death of 15 people.
Homemade explosives are used in the fight to ward off security guards at the mine by gold panners. Worsening economic conditions have resulted in the escalation of informal mining thereby increasing conflict in the competition for resources.
“This has seen some miners resorting to extreme violence. Such violence threatens the peace of the community.
“Despite government setting up a parliamentary committee to look into increasing cases of informal mining violence more cases of violence in informal mining have been reported resulting in fatalities,” the ZPP said.