By Simbarashe Sithole
Three Zanu PF legislators in Mashonaland Central province have been accused of stifling the police’s crackdown on illegal gold miners and machete gangs.
The countrywide police blitz, dubbed Operation Chikorokoza Ngachipere, has seen over 1 000 illegal miners and machete gangs arrested.
Police sources in Mashonaland Central said efforts to arrest illegal miners were being frustrated by legislators Patrick Dutiro (Guruve South), Campion Mugweni (Mazowe North) and Remigious Matangira (Bindura South).
They accused Dutiro of mobilising illegal miners to cause havoc and illegally mine at Eureka Mine. Contacted for comment, the MP said he only tried to intercede in a dispute between the police and illegal miners.
“I conducted a meeting with villagers because there is bad blood between the local police and villagers. So my meeting was for them to engage the police and mine owners so that they reach a consensus,” Dutiro said.
It is further alleged that Dutiro was capitalising on the incident to gain political ground ahead of the forthcoming Zanu PF district co-ordinating council (DCC) elections in Guruve, where he is reportedly eying the chairperson’s position.
“My meeting was genuine. I am not campaigning as alleged because my ground is already even,” he said.
Mugweni is accused of previously working with the management of Mazowe Mine to extract gold ore while using his constituency-branded vehicle.
Contacted for comment, Mugweni said: “Wherever that car is seen, it has nothing to do with you. It will be doing party business.”
He, however, declined to respond to reports of his alleged links with Mazowe Mine management.
The MP is also reportedly canvassing for support ahead of DCC elections.
In Bindura, Matangira is accused of funding machete gangs who were allegedly robbing illegal miners of their gold ore at Kitsiyatota.
Matangira refuted the claims, saying he was also a victim of machete gangs.
“That is very nonsensical. How can I fund MaShurugwi when I have been victimised by the MaShurugwi as a small-scale miner myself. I lost my mines at Mukaradzi in Mt Darwin, so labelling me in such a manner will be unfair,” he said.
Meanwhile, Zanu PF youths in the province said they were not happy with the on-going police blitz against illegal panners and machete gangs, which has seen thousands of them arrested, particularly at Mazowe Mine, where people from all walks of life were earning a living. News Day