By Watmore Makokoba
Worsening economic conditions culminating into high levels of poverty, unemployment and stiff competition for resources are the main causes of the recent deadly clashes that have claimed lives at Sabi gold mining community in Zvishavane, a human rights and community watch organisation warned.
The Zimbabwe Peace Project (ZPP) has urged the Ministry of Mines and mining Development to look into the issue as a matter of urgency citing that gold mining communities may continue to experience gold rush violence if the current economic hardships persist in the country.
Furthermore, the organisation expressed fears that the fights may soon turn political due to high polarisation in the area.
A statement issued to the press by ZPP said, “The violent clashes reportedly triggered by management’s failure to restore order after panners invaded the site are a cause for concern needing urgent government intervention to prevent them turning political, with disastrous consequences,
“ZPP is worried that the tension, which sometimes takes a political identity will escalate the 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.”
Minister of Mines Walter Chidhakwa said, “cabinet had received a report from State security concerning battles involving gold miners and a cabinet committee had been set up and tasked to look into such violent clashes”.
ZPP said, “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.
Chidhakwa explained some of the actions his ministry is taking, “We will be meeting the political leadership in various provinces together with the Minister of Home Affairs Ignatius Chombo, Minister of Defense Sydney Sekeramayi, and the Minister of State Security, Kembo Mohadi in a bid to stamp out the vice”.
He also indicated that visits will be conducted throughout the country where gold panning is rife to investigate the intensity of the matter.
Gold panning communities are often poverty stricken, a case that has been amplified by droughts that have left the communities vulnerable to violence.
The clashes at Sabi Mine are reported to have turned bloody, claiming 15 suspected gold panners and leaving many others injured.
According to a report by ZPP, Late last year one Qulisani Moyo died after his right foot was chopped off in a fight over a mining claim in Filabusi located in Matebeleland South. A gold panner from Lower Gweru was killed after fellow miners allegedly stabbed him over gold while in July 2016, eight gold panners from Mberengwa were injured after they were assaulted with machetes by rival panners. In 2016 security guards at Redwing Mine located in Penhalonga, Manicaland shot and injured a suspected gold panner.
Pic Credit: www.newsday.co.zw
By Watmore Makokoba