BY BLESSED MHLANGA
GOVERNMENT has threatened to unleash “special security operations” on artisanal gold miners destroying public infrastructure such as railway lines in search of the yellow metal.
This was announced yesterday by Information minister Monica Mutsvangwa during a post-Cabinet media briefing where she said artisanal miners had damaged railway tracks under by the Bulawayo-Beitbridge Railway (Pvt) Ltd.
“Government expresses grave concern at the threat of destruction of the country’s critical communications infrastructure and economic activities posed by the illegal and indiscriminate mining activities of illegal artisanal miners across all sectors of the economy.
“This follows presentation of a report on the matter by the Minister of Transport and Infrastructural Development (Felix Mhona), which was adopted by Cabinet.
“In the area operated by the Bulawayo-Beitbridge Railway (Pvt) Ltd, artisanal miners had dug pits within the three-metre radius of the railway line. This has the potential of weakening the railway infrastructure, leading to potential derailment and damage to the tracks.
“Cabinet approved the deployment of special security operations to deter artisanal mining activities along the Beitbridge-Bulawayo railway line,” she said.
Illegal gold miners have become the major suppliers of gold to the Fidelity Printers and Refiners, an arm of the central bank, and they are known for wantonly digging even underneath buildings for the precious metal.
Mutsvangwa also said government resolved to provide alternative accommodation to families in irregular settlements and those affected by recent hailstorms in Manicaland province’s Mutasa and Chipinge districts.
“Cabinet advises that the number of families residing in wetlands or in dysfunctional and irregular settlements which are in need of alternative accommodation stands at 31 257. Verification of affected households is ongoing.
“In the meantime, the provision of relief to distressed households in areas prone to flooding is underway, while the identification of safe places in all provinces is being carried out.
“The Department of Civil Protection is currently carrying out further assessments of the situation in co-operation with partners at the sub-national level in order to alleviate the suffering of our citizens,” she said.