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Peace commission acts on gold wars

THE National Peace and Reconciliation Commission (NPRC) has joined forces with the Zimbabwe Christian Alliance under Churches Convergence on Peace to investigate the artisanal mining violence that claimed one life and left 19 seriously injured in Gwanda.

The injured are battling for their lives at United Bulawayo Hospitals while 200 artisanal miners were arrested after the incident.

Communities in Gwanda are now living in fear and possibilities of being attacked again following that attack

Witnesses and some of the victims claimed perpetrators used weapons such as machetes, spears, whips, axes and stones during that melee.

In response to the calamity, the NPRC and some churches recently visited the mining town on a fact finding mission.

An emergency meeting was convened that included the office of the Minister of State for Matabeleland South, Provincial commanders for the security sectors, Provincial Ministries of Mines and Mining development, Primary and Secondary  Education, Lands and Rural Resettlement, Provincial Development Council members and District administrators of affected districts.

It was noted that the worrying trend of violence had unfortunately taken an ethnic dimension.

The following urgent actions were recommended upon:

A Gwanda District Peace Committee will urgently be formed to continue the process of engagement.

Local Peace Committees will also be formed at Ward level to make sure there is an Early Warning system and Rapid Response Mechanism put in place.

Meanwhile an engagement dialogue process has been started among the affected communities and would try to engage artisanal miners even from other provinces.

It was also decided that this engagement would be a joint initiative by NPRC, the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission and Churches Convergence on Peace to find a permanent solution to the problem.

The Ministry of Mines and Mining Development will be approached to be part of the solution.

In a joint statement, NPRC Commissioner Leslie Ncube and Reverend Useni Sibanda from the Zimbabwe Christian Alliance condemned the loss of life and said that violence did not form any part of their culture.

“Section 48 of the constitution of Zimbabwe guarantees all citizens regardless of race tribe or profession the inalienable rights to life. We also call upon communities to refrain from acts of violence to resolve disputes and we remain committed to walk with communities on the journey of peace.

“A permanent solution is urgently needed to avoid fatalities that may result if the disputes are not resolved.  We call upon the responsible authorities to regularise the situation and those who are involved should be called to book,” the statement read.

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