Twelve "Illegal" Gold Miners Revealed To Have Died As Government Announces Launch of Crackdown

After causing havoc at the Chiadzwa diamond fields (above) in Eastern Zimbabwe, the country's authorities have now announced that they are going after "illegal gold panners" in such areas as Shamva and Bindura in Mashonaland Central. The announcement, made by police spokesman Wayne Bvudzijena today, is being justified on the basis of looking out for the safety of these "illegal" miners as well as "environmental degradation". We all know what the true reason for this operation is, of course

Harare, Zimbabwe, 25 August 2009

Zimbabwe police have revealed that twelve small-scale miners (gold panners) have died across the country as they sought to justify the announcement today of the launch of a crackdown on gold panners in Mashonaland Central Province.

Wayne Bvudzijena, the Zimbabwe police spokesman, told reporters:

"We have launched operations to stop this vice. Illegal gold panning is resurfacing in areas such as Shamva, Bindura and Concession in Mashonaland while other cases have also been reported in other provinces."

The 12 gold panners (referred to by Bvudzijena as "illegal gold panners") have died in disused and abandoned gold mines in Mash Central.

The resurgence of gold panning is certainly attributable to the worsening economic plight of Zimbabwe, after the false hope given by the launch of the moribund and broke Inclusive Government.

Although the Zimbabwe authorities are using the excuse of gold miners' safety and "environmental degradation" to justify the launch of this operation, the truth is that they are simply seeking to concentrate revenue from gold mining in the hands of the government to allow it to fund its huge appetite for funds.

With small-scale diamond miners already chased away from Chiadzwa (and the money from these diamond fields still not finding its way into government coffers), attention is now turning to other minerals in the hope that restoring order there will see funds flowing into Treasury.

The Inclusive Government of Morgan Tsvangirai and Robert Mugabe is making the same mistakes as the previous ZANU PF regime. They are not addressing the underlying, fundamental problem and instead are seeking to treat only the symptoms.

The underlying problem is the failure by the Inclusive Misgovernment to put in place policies that can lead to employment creation. People are still struggling to survive and even those in employment are earning not much more than the US$100 which has been set as a benchmark by government through their paying civil servants these slave wages.

The only consolation we can get from this is that it is the police who are involved and not the army. If this were not the case, then we would probably witness the same scenes as we saw at the Chiadzwa diamond fields, where the army launched an operation to "clean up" the area. That operation is reported to have resulted in the deaths of several "illegal" diamond miners at the fields.

What is clear though is that until and unless the Inclusive Government puts in place policies that will give private capital confidence to invest in job-creating ventures, the bane of "illegality" will continue to haunt Zimbabwe.

By the way, it was announced that this Inclusive creature has now found partners to help them develop and exploit the Chiadzwa diamond fields. The announcement was made by Deputy Mines Minister Zvidzai at the weekend, but do not expect anything to come of it.

For one thing, the previous owner of the claim, a British company that was kicked off by Mugabe's government, is still claiming that their title to the diamond claim holds and they have told all interested parties that if they get involved, they will have sanctions imposed on them and may face legal action in London for accepting "stolen property."

The other issue is that Grace Mugabe and her cronies are still selling loose diamonds on the world market and they are unlikely to let go of this lucrative "venture" soon. There are nests to be feathered, after all.


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