Stiffer penalties for gold panners urged

Michael Magoronga Midlands Correspondent
People who carry out activities that degrade the land such as gold panning, stream bank cultivation and deforestation should receive stiffer penalties that would act as a deterrent for future perpetrators, Chief Weight Gwesela of Zhombe has said.

The traditional leader was speaking during a Ward Assembly held at his residence in Zhombe on Saturday where he met with various stakeholders including Government departments, non-governmental organisations and village heads among others.

Chief Gwesela said the fines that were being administered by the Environment Management Agency EMA were not restrictive enough as the same people were continuing with the activities despite being fined.

“Government should consider a longer jail sentence for such people who are destroying the environment. Something that sets an example to say if you do this you will be jailed,” he said.

He said land degradation activities especially through artisanal gold mining, were rampant in Zhombe and in most cases the miners were leaving open pits that pose a danger to livestock.

“We are facing serious problems with artisanal miners who leave pits everywhere. These pits are now a serious danger to our livestock and we implore EMA to intervene before it gets out of hand,” said the traditional leader.

He said some of the miners were depositing chemicals like cyanide into dams posing a health threat to flora and fauna.

“Recently we were investigating a case where miners dumped chemicals in a dam where people fetch water from.

“It is a challenge we are facing and if you arrest them they simply produce a ticket from EMA,” said the chief.

He also pointed out that stream bank cultivation, deforestation and farming in places reserved for pastures were some of the major challenges being faced in the area.

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