Patrick Chitumba, Midlands Bureau Chief
More than 1 800 members of machete wielding gangs have been arrested in the past month as police clamp down on criminals wreaking havoc in mining areas, Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage Minister Kazembe Kazembe said yesterday.
Addressing senior police officers at Gweru Main Camp after a tour of police stations in the city, Minister Kazembe said marauding machete wielding gangs should not be allowed to tarnish the image of the country which is moving with the mantra, “Zimbabwe is Open for Business.”
“The police should be commended for a job well done because in the past month or so, more than 1 800 members of machete wielding gangs masquerading as gold panners have been arrested across the country.
“The police are winning the war against these criminals. Only recently, 77 members of these gangs were convicted and sent to jail and a number have pending matters before the courts. This shows that the police have acted and that is why we have people being arrested every day,” said the Minister who was accompanied by his deputy, Cde Mike Madiro and police commanders.
Minister Kazembe said he was worried about alleged corrupt activities in the Midlands province involving members of the police force.
He said it had come to his attention that criminals were only being arrested by officers deployed from other stations outside the province while local police seemed to be turning a blind eye.
“Corruption, ladies and gentleman, I will not tire to talk about it. People are complaining that the police are involved and usually there is no smoke without fire. Those who are involved in corrupt tendencies should stop. I’m warning those involved in corruption that the long arm of the law will one day catch up with them. During the briefing by the officer commanding the province (Moses Magandi) he said he was worried that local police officers don’t seem to be arresting criminals,” said Minister Kazembe.
He said he was told that the arrests that are reported were as a result of police officers moved from other provinces.
“If that’s the case, then that is confirmation of corruption in the force. How do we fail to arrest criminals? It is either you are inefficient, which I highly doubt or indeed you are involved in corruption,” said Minister Kazembe.
He said his ministry is expected to take a leading role in implementing national programmes in line with the country’s vision 2030.
“The country’s vision 2030 presents several policy and implementation obligations on the part of Government and these include a Zimbabwe that is open for business. Zimbabwe can only be open for business if its citizens are able to obtain important documents such as birth certificates, passports and the country enjoys peace,” said Minister Kazembe.
He said Foreign Direct Investment can only be attracted by a peaceful environment hence the need for police to execute their mandate.
“We play an important role in making sure the environment is free of crime, free of corruption and is conducive for business to thrive. Our ministry should remain conscious of the role it plays in creating a conducive environment for the successful implementation of all Government policies and programmes,” said Minister Kazembe.