Heal Zimbabwe is gravely concerned by the escalation of cases of violence involving machete killings by artisan miners across the country. During the festive season, there were reports of one police officer who was hacked to death by the machete-wielding gangs at Good Hope Mine in Battlefields. On Christmas eve, a gold buyer suffered the same fate in Mvuma. Reports on machete violence shows that at least 105 people have been hacked to death in machete gang violence between August and October 2019 yet the violence continues escalating.
The ongoing killings come against a backdrop where there has not been adequate response by law enforcement agents. Heal Zimbabwe expresses concern that although the police have only issued warnings against machete killings and conduct investigations, machete gang killings and embarrassments remain rampant across the country. Heal Zimbabwe continues to receive widespread cases of machete gangs terrorizing villagers in areas such as Mazowe, Glendale, Chegutu, Kwekwe and Kadoma. To date, machete gangs continue to pose a serious threat to the prevalence of peace and social cohesion life in local communities. More worrying is that there are reports that there are some gangs that remain untouchable even by law enforcement agents due to their link to political elites. The culture of violence being perpetrated by the machete-wielding gangs is inimical to the promotion of social cohesion, peace, healing and reconciliation.
Heal Zimbabwe applauds the government for having formalized the operation of small-scale miners when it branded them artisanal miners. However, such a process was not followed up by robust conflict prevention and rehabilitation mechanisms to heal them of the violent culture that is associated with the sector. Quite worrying is that the conduct of artisanal miners lack cohesion, accountability, consistency and character modification, which form the nucleus of mining ethical codes of conduct, which include issues of safety etc.
In light of the above, Heal Zimbabwe implores the government to take punitive measures to ensure that sanity prevails in the extractive industry. This includes apprehending all artisan miners implicated in the killings and ensuring that the measures to quell violence in mining communities are put in place. Some of these mechanisms involve a multi-stakeholder engagement between government, and other responsible authorities where miners are trained and educated on policies and regulations that they must adhere to.