Minister of Indigenisation, Youth Development and Empowerment warned the police to abstain from arresting panners saying there was nothing illegal about the panning.
Speaking at the Midlands State University during a public lecture on Poverty Alleviation Through Indeginisation, Minister Savior Kasukuwere urged the police to stop harassing and arresting illegal panners in the country despite the fact that environmentalists’ concerns.
Kasukuwere said it was a shame that the mining sector which is foreign owned continued to loot the country’s resources while being escorted by the police while local panners who he said were trying to eke an honest living were being harassed by the same police.
“It’s high time we woke up as Zimbabweans. Mining firms continue to extract and loot our minerals while we watch, folding our hands. When the minerals are mined using local labour, we then authenticate their looting and stealing by allowing our police to escort them to the borders. The same police officers would then crack down on our indigenous panners as they try to eke a living from their own minerals,” Kasukuwere said.
“When the panners are raided, they are sent to the courts where they are given long sentences as punishment. We should put an end to that and make sure that we help each and every Zimbabwean enjoy his or her mineral resources by legalising their operations,” he added.
The Illegal panners leave open pits after extracting the minerals and in the Midlands Province, the Environmental Management Authority has blamed them for destroying the environment. They are even digging under the major highway linking Zimbabwe to South Africa in search of gold.
Kasukuwere vented out his anger also on foreign owned mines warning that he was coming out for them for failing to give 10percent of their shares to local communities while applauding Zimplats that has already done so. He said stakeholders should now move from talking to action
“We have talked a lot on this subject about indigenisation and economic empowerment and how it should be implemented. It’s now time to make sure that this programme has been implemented so that the majority of Zimbabweans who are owners of the huge deposits of minerals in this country directly benefit. We will crack down on all mines to give away the 10percent. We will move on to Mimosa, to Unki, Murowa and all the mines,” he said.
The Minister also said Government has set aside a national revolving fund, which will require companies to contribute part of their profits towards future use.
“In as much as we are proud to posses such huge mineral deposits in our country there will come a time when these mineral deposits along the Great Dyke will be exhausted. As Government we have set asidea national revolving fund whereby mining companies are compelled to contribute funds towards the fund for future use,” Kasukuwere explained.