Source: Mazowe invasions are disgraceful – The Standard April 1, 2018
Photographs showing scores of illegal gold panners digging up a citrus farm in Mazowe last week paint a picture of naked lawlessness which no nation with a semblance of moral compass can be seen to celebrate.
The farm reportedly belongs to former president Robert Mugabe’s family. The brazen invasion of the property and lack of action by authorities — including the police, the Environment Management Authority (EMA), the Agriculture ministry, the local council — coupled with the arrogant response by the panners themselves all seem to point to the fact that the destruction of the farm is a political statement.
Mazowe police station is a stone’s throw away from the scene of this criminal destruction and the police are therefore unable to claim ignorance of such a massive and raucous activity which must have been going on for weeks in their backyard. The Agriculture ministry officials in the area would have got wind of the destruction of citrus trees at the farm and together with EMA, should have moved to stop the enormous environmental degradation splashed in newspaper pictures.
The gold panners who, by the nature of their trade, never make secret their presence wherever they go, reportedly came out boastfully to meet former first lady Grace Mugabe who had gone there upon hearing of the invasion. They are said to have been singing and chanting political songs and slogans associated with the new government and claimed they had been brought there to do what they were doing.
Our concern here is the lawlessness and the destruction of productive land that such activities bring into the country. The worry is the message that such barbaric acts of lawlessness send across the country and beyond. Statements by the panners suggest acts of retribution on the former first family — something that President Emmerson Mnangagwa has sought to discourage and dissociate himself from.
Wanton destruction of agricultural land, equipment and produce of the magnitude witnessed in Mazowe does not punish Mugabe, his wife or their family as appears the intent. Such barbarism spells huge national loss and disgrace. It paints Zimbabwe as a nation sinking deeper into lawlessness and disorder — even suggesting political instability — and not a country that is open for business.
If politicians have a gripe with the Mugabes, they have means other than national destruction, to deal with them. They have the means to investigate and prosecute cases that are already being chased — away from irreversible national destruction.
Zimbabwe is going into elections soon and Mnangagwa’s government is all out to convince the world that they intend to hold free, fair and credible polls. Scenes such as the Mazowe invasion of private property and the destruction thereat will undo their efforts and expose the retribution mentality amongst them.
Mnangagwa must, as he preaches, show that indeed Zimbabwe has moved on, is open for business and is a law-abiding country which protects all its people and has respect for property rights. Zimbabwe has law enforcement capacity to maintain order everywhere across the country including at Mazowe.