There has been a spike in cases of machete-wielding gangs being involved in violence and robbing people, with fears that this could degenerate into civil war.
Fears of national conflict were expressed by Midlands Provincial Affairs minister Larry Mavima while officially opening the Chiefs Council meeting hosted by the Zimbabwe Council of Churches (ZCC) in Gweru on Tuesday. He said:
We often hear that the artisanal miners are now a menace in communities. They are using machetes to injure people. Every day there now seems to be such cases. We will all perish if these cases of violence persist. We need peace in the country. If these small cases of violence are allowed to go on, they will become a national conflict.
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Numerous media reports indicate that artisanal miners who move around carrying machetes (MaShurugwi) are engaged in violent conflicts resulting in fatalities in some cases.
High crime rates are always recorded in areas where the machete gangs operate, with some of the thugs reportedly boasting that they are untouchable as they enjoy protection from politicians.