KWEKWE– Midlands Provincial Affairs Minister Larry Mavhima says the state was not relenting in its current blitz on illegal miners responsible for crimes and massive land degradation in the province.

He was addressing Kwekwe councillors and managers amid illegal mining activities in and around the mineral rich Midlands.

The Zanu PF official told authorities in Kwekwe they should not fear exercising their powers to shut down illegal mines in the politically volatile area, once under then cabinet minister President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s firm control.

Said Mavhima, “When you are driving through the city, you don’t feel like you are in a city because of the massive exploration activities taking place in the city.

“It is absurd that right in the CBD, you will come across some mines.”

President Mnangagwa’s ally quizzed council officials on why they were reluctant to use their powers.

“Why are you not using yours powers to shut down the illegal mines? What are you afraid to use your powers? Use your powers,” Mavhima said.

He vowed there was no going back in the fight against illegal artisanal mining.

“We don’t want illegal artisanal miners. We are going to make sure that all illegal prospecting comes to an end. We don’t want our citizens to live in fear after being terrorised by youths who are directionless,” he said.

Mavhima said government was not against mining but this must be lawfully practised.

Police have since arrested more than 1 000 artisanal miners as they intensify a crackdown on machete-wielding gangs under an operation code-named Chikorokoza Ngachipere.

More than 9 000 have been arrested countrywide since police descended on the violent machete gangs.

“I can confirm that we have so far arrested 1 061 miners in the Midlands province under operation Chikorokoza ngachipere/No to machete gangs,” he said.

“This is an ongoing operation that is mainly targeting machete gangs. For the past two days, we have raided Kwekwe and Shurugwi and we will not disclose where we are going to strike next.

“We busted Baka, Maketo and Anaconda who are notorious gangs from Mashonaland West. We want to protect our law-abiding citizens from these unruly elements who have become law unto themselves. We are restoring sanity in the mining communities and we are maintaining peace in the country.” –