Isdore Guvamombe, Assistant Editor
IT is the second week since police have launched “Operation Chikorokoza Ngachipere” to curb violence in mining areas and stop illegal gold mining.
A light rain shower has just stopped and illegal gold panners streak back from a bush shelter to Mvuramachena River, as cloud cover gives way to the sun.
The river is just 8km from the main police station by tarred road and a mere 4km by a well-defined newly-constructed dirty road.
Like moles, they dig and forage for gold, albeit illegally.
The riverbank is mutilated and raped.
Trees, grass and little everything else is killed with reckless abandon.
The environment is deflowered. Hoes, mattocks, iron bars and many other tools are used to violate the riverbanks and the floor.
A few metres downstream, water tinged brown by the gold extraction process, forms tears that give clear evidence of the pain the river has undergone, day and night. Cry our beloved river!
But the river is silent in its death moments and only the array of equipment chats and clutters in physical contact with the soil and stones in whose belly gold is believed to lie.
A new road and bridge constructed to link three villages, for the first time since independence in 1980, by a well-wisher are under threat.
The panners don’t care about anything, but gold, gold and gold. Gold!
Once the road and bridge are destroyed, which is imminent, three villages — Nhamoyebonde, Muzika and Muroiwa — will slide back to connectivity problems and certainly the well-wisher will not be amused.
The river is a spitting distance from Eureka Gold Mine and a walking distance from the district police station.
Yes, the district police station, not a small police base. A police station. Imagine? Day and night the panners destroy the river.
The buyers are in tow and they are from Guruve Centre, Mvurwi, Bindura and Harare.
The United States dollar is exchanging hands, illegally.
Ironically, Mvuramachena is a tributary of Dande River, a few kilometres upstream the dam that supplies water to Guruve Business Centre.
Despite the much-publicised “Operation Chikorokoza Ngachipere”, police in Guruve are suffering from inexplicable inertia.
As they dig a spitting distance from the police station, the illegal gold panners play radios in loud symphony that would make management at the popular Dendere Night Club at the business centre green with envy.
They are in a world of their own. Call it music while working.
Sadly, among the illegal panners is said to be a feared group, the core of a team that raided Eureka Gold Mine a month ago, attacked guards and destroyed property in the administrative office in broad daylight. That group gets the lion’s share and is feared.
Disturbed, village head Elias Nhamoyebonde tries to stop them, but they won’t listen to an old man in his 80s. They even mock him.
The village head has walked many times, in his old age gait, to report the panners at the police station but much to his chagrin, police have not come. The illegal panners even scoff at his efforts.
Did William Shakespeare not say, it takes good people to do nothing for the evil to prevail? Indeed, it takes the Zimbabwe Republic Police to do nothing for the evil to prevail.
That illegal panners are a mere 3km from Guruve District Police Station is unimaginable by all standards of policing when there is an ongoing national operation to stop the scourge.
Suffice to say, the village leadership is disturbed that we have a police force that watches a small problem grow big then act when the problem has morphed into a colossus.
A small problem grows into a big one while police watch and do nothing. Our police. The people’s police.
The story on Mvuramachena is a real example of how a small problem is allowed to grow into a big one. It defies logic that police can fail to deal with a panning problem as it starts.
When you clamp down on all other illegal mining areas and leave one next to your house, what message are you sending?
Dear reader, in 2016 I did another piece on Eureka Mine when a small group invaded it.
The problem was to grow big and police and the mine security ended up in a bloody fight that saw the death of two people and the injury of many.
They groomed a problem.
Police must be respected as the harbingers of sanity in our society and in my village, the police have lost respect from all and sundry.
When the village head, an old man with cotton tuft hair and jelly feet, makes efforts to save the environment, a river of life, a road and bridge, among others and police do not respond favourably, crime and evil set in.
Where an 80-year-old man walks, policemen half his age can do too. But there is something not adding up at Guruve Police Station.
Now the net effect of it is that village boys have joined in and others have dropped out of school to pan. The numbers are growing every day. The problem is growing big every day.
By the time police decide to intervene, the problem would have grown much bigger — and worse.
As pressure mounts with the swelling numbers of illegal panners on Mvuramachena River, crime will set in and increase. This could best be nipped in the bud.
But many people have questions on whether “Operation Chikorokoza Ngachipere” excludes Guruve? Many people have questions on whether police apply the law selectively? Many people have questions on whether police in Guruve have long sight, and cannot see near? There are more questions than answers.
When it is just 3km away, it ceases to be anything about resources, like vehicles. No. It is about ineptitude. It is about sleeping on duty. It is unbelievable. Certainly it cannot be our police force, a people’s police force. No!