Chiwenga guns for maShurugwi… as ‘take-no-prisoners’ VP vows to annihilate machete barbarians
VICE PRESIDENT Constantino Chiwenga, has warned illegal gold miners and robbers who are terrorising Zimbabweans using machetes that the government will henceforth deal with them decisively, the Daily News reports.
This comes as the government has been challenged to deploy the full might of the country’s military to protect communities where machete-wielding gangs are running amok with total disdain for the law.
Addressing church leaders and thousands of people who gathered in Harare at the weekend to mark the international day of prayer, the unremitting Chiwenga said machete-wielding gold panners and armed robbers would be dealt with without mercy by the government. “A united, prosperous, peaceful and secure Zimbabwe is achievable where people can freely worship and carry out their day-to-day activities with a sense of security and belonging.
“While government takes stern measures against those who disturb peace, security and the conduct of business, such as those machete-wielding gangsters and robbers who have emerged, prayers and evangelical crusades can also provide significant complementary support,” Chiwenga said.
The former general — who led the military coup which ended the late former president Robert Mugabe’s long and ruinous rule in November 2017 — spoke days after civil society leaders and a legislator had called on the government to deploy soldiers to end the machete gangs menace.
They said a military deployment should be over and above the ongoing efforts of the police, whose operation has led to the arrest of thousands of machete criminals across the country since late last year.
Independent MP for Norton, Temba Mliswa, said last week that the government should deploy the army to maShurugwi hotspots, in a bid to end the reign of terror by these thugs.
“There is nothing that the army cannot do. They were able to assist us in removing former president Robert Mugabe after 37 years.
“There’s absolutely nothing they cannot do and … they can do it from a constitutional point of view.
“Section 213 of the Constitution talks about the involvement of the army in restoring law and order, but in this situation we have people dying and they (the government) are quiet,” Mliswa told a gathering in the capital on Thursday.
He also challenged State Security minister Owen Ncube to clear his name, which he alleged was being linked to the machete terror gangs in the Midlands.
“I have challenged the minister of State Security to say, but people continuously name you. This is now a State security issue.
“Why don’t you issue a statement and say I have been mentioned in this but I am not involved, anybody with evidence of my involvement must come forward.
“What has the national security done about this? There are people who actually mention the president in this,” Mliswa said.
“It’s the responsibility of the minister of State Security to protect the image of the president by confirming whether the president is involved or not.
“I am convinced that these criminals are working with law enforcement agents and it’s becoming very difficult to address their issue,” he added.
In his address to church leaders, Chiwenga said with President Emmerson Mnangagwa in charge, there was no reason to panic because he would ensure that the country would remain peaceful.
“To this effect he (Mnangagwa) has a vision for the country to become an empowered upper middle income society by 2030.
“I am convinced that through the hard work of the people of Zimbabwe, guided by their leaders, we will be enjoying a high quality of life by 2030,” he said.
This comes as the government has launched a crackdown against machete-wielding gangs across the country’s mining belts — following a surge in grisly crimes which came to the fore late last year after a policeman was killed in a barbaric attack in Kadoma.
It also comes at a time when cases of indiscipline within the security sector are worryingly on the increase — with military commanders said to be threatening to deal decisively with all rogue members who bring the image of the armed forces into disrepute.
Last week, police said they had arrested three members of the Presidential Guard, as well as a former ZBC staffer — Musorowegomo Mukosi (41) — over recent violence in Mt Darwin, after the accused allegedly attempted to grab a gold mine there.
Blessmore Tembo (32), Gilbert Charuma (31) and Liberty Munemo (31) were named as the nabbed members of the Presidential Guard — after the trio and Mukosi were accused of bludgeoning 15 villagers at the gold-rich Chin Mine in the district.
The men have since appeared in court and have been remanded out of custody.
The arrest of these soldiers and others before that has brought to the fore the growing incidence of increasing indiscipline in the army in particular, as the country’s economic challenges continue to bite.
Speaking at a recent prize-giving ceremony at Five Brigade, Major-General Hlanganani Dube also pointed out that the rate of indiscipline in the army was of great concern.
“I strongly feel obliged to express the command element’s concern over repeated acts of indiscipline by some of our members.
“We continue to experience an increase in the number of members involved in crimes committed both within and outside the organisation.
“Such acts of indiscipline must end immediately,” Dube said then.
“Severe punishments will always be applied for any deviation from our set standards.
“The ZNA (Zimbabwe National Army) will always strive for the best in the aspect of discipline to maintain its reputation which is envied by many in the region and beyond,” he said further.
Initially, machete-related crimes were linked to illegal gold panners only, but have since the turn of the year also involved robbers who have adopted the same primitive criminal methods to rob people of their valuables in their homes.
Meanwhile, police say the on-going Operation Chikorokoza Ngachipere (illegal gold mining should end) has so far led to the arrest of more than 2 000 machete criminals.