Joc gives gold panners ultimatum

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ZANU PF supporters who were encouraged to invade a goldfield in Bindura (Kitsiyatota) during First Lady Grace Mugabe ’s meet-the-people rallies ahead of the controversial Zanu PF congress last December were given a three-day notice on Monday to leave the area, Zimbabwe Independent has been informed.

Elias Mambo

Zanu PF sources said this week the provincial joint operation command (Joc) chaired by Provincial Affairs minister Martin Dinha resolved to force the artisanal miners out of the goldfields by Thursday. Joc is a grouping of security forces, including the army, Central Intelligence Organisation and police.

“In its disaster management committee meeting Joc was advised by the Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (Zesa) to push for the removal of the gold panners who have left a trail of environmental destruction,” a source said.

“Dinha, accompanied by Zanu PF provincial chairperson Dickson Mafios, informed the group leaders at Kitsiyatota to close down operations by Thursday.

“Zesa warned the provincial leadership that there is a looming catastrophe if high voltage power cables and lines fall down due to the mining as they could cause damage to domestic and industrial appliances,” said the source adding: “The power lines that supply Trojan and Ashanti mines are under threat as they have become unstable due to miners digging under them, so are underground cables, while there has been damage to Bindura power station.”

Sources also said riot police would be called in if the miners refuse to leave.

During the campaigns in the run up to congress Grace told the provincial leadership to let the women form groups so that they could be empowered through the mining activities in the area. The women went on to form groups which were led by Zanu PF youths, but they have caused serious environmental degradation.

The eviction of artisanal miners also comes against the backdrop of the on-going vendors’ saga where Local Government minister Ignatius Chombo, backed by Harare’s Joc, also issued an ultimatum for vendors to leave the city centre by today.

On Wednesday vendors defied a police ban by demonstrating in the city centre and marching to parliament to present their petition.

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