Fungai Lupande Mash Central Bureau
Government has suspended the issuance of licences for dealing in scrap copper pending the amendment of the Copper Act, which will among other issues contain stiffer penalties of up to 10 years and above for those illegally dealing in copper or caught stealing it, Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage Minister Kazembe Kazembe has said.
Speaking in Bindura on Sunday, Minister Kazembe said regulations for obtaining copper licences were being changed to shut out briefcase companies who were stealing copper.
“We want to avoid briefcase companies that come indicating that they want to do copper conversion when in actual fact they are stealing it. The new law will allow only serious and known companies to get copper licences,” he said.
“We have temporarily suspended issuance of copper licences until we have completed amending the Copper Act. The amendments will include stiff penalties of 10 years and above for those caught stealing or illegally dealing in copper. Vehicles that will be used to transport stolen copper will be impounded.”
Responding to allegations of corruption against the police in relation to illegal gold panners operating along Mazowe River, Minister Kazembe urged people to work together with the police, alert them on crimes and come forward with evidence against corrupt police officers.
“It is possible that police officers are engaging in corruption with gold panners along Mazowe River, but what is important is that we get the evidence so that we can arrest them,” he said.
“The challenge is that we are leaving everything to the police and expect them to be everywhere when crime is committed. A police officer’s job is to attend to a crime scene ,and not to monitor whether crime is being committed.
“We have several acts, including the Mines and Minerals Act and Environment Management Act which give ministries power to remove or evict people engaging in illegal activities and when they resist that is when the police intervene.”
Minister Kazembe said officials from his ministry will soon discuss with the Ministry of Mines and Mining Development, the Environment Management Agency and the Zimbabwe National Water Authority so that decisive action is taken against rampant illegal mining along Mazowe River.
These illegal mining activities have created a serious water crisis in Bindura and Shamva whose source is Mazowe River.