Harare, (New Ziana) – The Parliament of Zimbabwe has resolved to open an inquiry to ascertain the root cause of the acts of violence being perpetrated by gangs of artisanal miners wielding machetes who have invaded some gold mining areas around the country.
The mobs of violent artisanal gold miners are known to mete out instant justice to rival miners and even innocent civilians. Late last year a gang in Battlefields killed a policeman and seriously injured his colleague at Good Hope Mine.
Popularly known as “MaShurugwi” (derived from the Shurugwi area of the Midlands province where one of the gangs originated), the violent gangs have also been accused of raping women and slaughtering people’s livestock, leaving citizens frightened to carry out their day to day activities.
In light of the ever-growing menace, the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Mines and Energy said it would invite various stakeholders including Cabinet Ministers, the Police Commissioner General, the Zimbabwe Miners Federation and civil society organisations to get to the bottom of the matter.
“The committee has resolved to conduct this inquiry as a matter of urgency and is now working on the procedural and administrative matters to ensure that stakeholders are invited and that we achieve a lasting solution to the matter,” committee chairperson Edgar Mukaratigwa told journalists on Wednesday.
“The committee is perplexed by the rampant killings and lawlessness going on in the mining sector and as elected representatives of the people, Parliament will not remain silent on the issue. Within its mandate, Parliament together with Government shall ensure that punitive measures are put in place to address this matter.”
Mukaratigwa said the inquiry would also seek to find out the socio-economic impact of the disturbances on gold production in light of the $12 billion target that the government set for the mining industry by 2023.
“The committee has keenly discussed this issue and resolved to conduct an inquiry into the matter in order to identify and trace the foundations and development of the gold panning gangs (and also) to establish what government is doing to end these acts of terrorism,” he said.
At the end, he said the committee would compile and present a comprehensive report to Parliament with findings and recommendations for action.
“The committee further resolved that government kick-starts legislative procedures to allow for stiffer penalties with regards to such perpetrators (of violence) as was done in the case of the Criminal Procedure and Evidence Act regarding the vandalism of railway and electrical material among others.
“The committee also resolved to urge government to expedite the formalisation of artisanal miners and ensure accountability of their activities. In doing so it is necessary to identify the challenges being faced by different government stakeholders in directing efforts towards quelling this behaviour bedeviling the mining sector and the society at large,” he said.
“In the meantime the Portfolio Committee commends the efforts going on but would want to see more seriousness and intensity of efforts towards resolving that hazard once and for all.”
Mukaratigwa added; “Zimbabwe is and has always been a civilised republic regulated by the laws enacted by our Parliament and as such unruly acts of violence sprouting around our major resources cannot continue for the reason that they retard development and nation building efforts.”