Mutare — Stakeholders in the mining sector have called for urgent action to stop pervasive involvement of political actors in illicit gold trade which they said was fomenting criminality and violence in the sector.
As calls from civil society, churches and the general public grow over the scourge of Machete wielding criminals, popularly known as Mashurugwi, Zimbabwe Environmental Laws Association (ZELA) convened a multi stakeholder convention to recommend solutions to end violence artisanal mining activities.
The forty-five organizations were drawn from Parliament, Ministry of Mines Portfolio Committee on Mines, civic organizations Zimbabwe Women in Mining, the European Union, media fraternity, representatives from mining affected communities and artisanal and small-scale miners.
In nine key recommendations, they expressed deep concern over the President's non-reactionary attitude to machete violence, urging the Head of State to declare it a state of emergency and called for government to hand down stiff punitive sentences to offenders,
ZELA called for a lasting solution to the anarchy brought by machete wielding gangs who are threatening the sustainability of a viable livelihood for artisanal and small-scale miners and robbing Zimbabwe of its peaceful and harmonious status.
Government was also urged to provide a legal framework that formalizes artisanal mining as well as repealing of legislation that criminalizes prospecting for gold to strengthen the justice system which ZELA warned was now being branded 'inept'.
ZELA released a statement on the recommendations made by the "45 citizens of the Republic of Zimbabwe drawn from mining impacted communities, civil society organizations, parliament of Zimbabwe, artisanal and small-scale miners, captains of industry, the media fraternity and government officials...
"We now therefore call on the Government of Zimbabwe and its relevant stakeholders to ensure that;
"It moves swiftly to formalise artisanal and small-scale mining instead of criminalizing this sector which has become a source of livelihood for many people trying to escape persistent poverty.
"Transparent and regulatory mechanisms which offer easy access to mining titles and legal production channels must be put in place. ASM is an important source of livelihood for millions of Zimbabweans.
"There is need for a holistic understanding of the machete violence. This will contribute to the development of multifaceted responses to curb criminality
"The move by the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Mines and Energy to undertake an enquiry is noble, however swift action is needed to urgently deal with machete wielding gangs;
Stringent and deterrent sentences must be endorsed while the judiciary must ensure that bail is not granted to these human rights violators.
"The Government of Zimbabwe must move a step further to gazette a Statutory Instrument whose objective would be to protect the citizens from machete wielding gangs.
"Punitive measures must be enacted to arrest the corruption scourge. The pervasive involvement of some influential political actors in illicit ASM dealings has perpetuated criminality and corruption.
"The Gold Trade Act which criminalizes prospecting by artisanal miners must be repealed while the archaic Mines and Minerals Act must be urgently reviewed.
"The Government and relevant stakeholders must begin a formal process to design and implement due diligence measures consistent with regional and international principles such as the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and embrace the Guiding Principles on Business and Human rights.
"The status of women in mining must be improved for the better. This is a prudent move in the promotion of responsible and safe artisanal and small-scale gold mining," read part of the statement.