NGO urges govt to crush maShurugwi


AS POLICE intensify their war against machete gangs, a civil society group has implored the government to treat the panga barbarians’ issue as a state of emergency, the Daily News reports.

This comes after police closed Jumbo Mine in Mazowe indefinitely this week, as they bid to bring sanity to the area which has been badly affected by the maShurugwi menace.

The deputy director of the Zimbabwe Environmental Lawyers Association (Zela), Shamiso Mtisi, said yesterday that the issue of machete gangs now needed to be dealt with as an emergency situation.

“The government needs to take the issue of violent machete-wielding gangs seriously by declaring it as a state of emergency.

“These gangs are wreaking havoc across the country by raping women and young girls and brutally murdering people without a reason.

“We appreciate the efforts that the government has done so far, but clearly more needs to be done if we are to win the fight against this growing menace,” Mtisi told the Daily News

He also said the maShurugwi problem needed a holistic understanding of the factors which had led to their evil activities, in order to find sustainable solutions.

“The rise of the machete wielders is a result of various factors. One of these is the collapse of our economy.

“We have young people with no formal employment who are flocking to mining areas to make quick money by all means necessary, including violence.

“So, and in order to fix this challenge, we need to speed up economic reforms which will help to resuscitate Zimbabwe’s economy and create employment for these youngsters,” Mtisi said further.

He also urged the government to fast-track its efforts to legalise and formalise artisanal mining.

“The government must repeal the Gold Trade Act which criminalises prospecting by artisanal miners and review the archaic Mines and Minerals Act.

“The disorganisation that is within the informal mining sector has created a breeding ground for maShurugwi, and until the sector has been formalised, such menacing groups will continue to thrive through the lack of organisation,” he added.

Mtisi also said transparent regulatory mechanisms — which offered easy access to mining titles and legal production channels — needed to be put in place.

“Long before we had the problem of maShurugwi, we had fights which erupted over mining rights.

“This is because the allocation of mining rights is shrouded in mystery. As such, we need a transparent system which will ensure accountability and credibility,” Mtisi told the Daily News.

This comes as the government has launched a crackdown against maShurugwi, which has so far netted about 2 000 of them, as well as robbers.

The machete barbarians are particularly a major menace around the country’s gold and diamond producing regions — which has prompted Justice minister Ziyambi Ziyambi to announce recently that the government is mulling a shoot-to-kill policy against them.

In the run-up to the New Year, a police officer was bludgeoned to death — while one of his colleagues was seriously injured in an attack by machete-wielding artisanal miners who had invaded Good Hope Mine in Kadoma.

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