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» » Zanu PF youths fight over Banket gold claim

BY ELVIS DUMBA
Zanu PF youths in Banket are reportedly fighting for control over a lucrative gold claim in the area.
Ward 22 youth chairman Steven Zidana is reportedly embroiled in a wrangle with Never Hutepasi, who is a member of the provincial youth league for Mashonaland West.
Investigations done by this reporter revealed that the illegal mine which is in Banket near the Anglican Church was once shut down by the Environment Management Agency a year ago with some of the people who operated at the site reportedly arrested and appeared in court for illegally prospecting for the precious mineral.
However, secrecy surrounds the court case as it did not go to trial. Some of the accused persons fell sick and failed to appear before the court
The gold mine which is also near a primary school is reportedly linked to some youths with connections to the Minister of Mines and Mining Development Walter Chidhakwa prompting authorities to turn a blind eye at the illegal operations.
Currently the youths are engaged in a bitter fight over control of the mine.
Sources close to the wrangle said Zidana is being chased away from the mine where the Mines minister’s security aides only identified as Sibanda and Percy have a stake.
One of the youths, Wonder Hutepasi is allegedly barring a group of unemployed youths led by Zidana from the claim. This was after rich pickings following gold ore discoveries after working at the site for more than two months.
It is said there is bad blood between Zidana and Minister Chidakwa who is also the area’s Member of Parliament for his links to a Zanu PF candidate who is standing against the legislator in the forthcoming primary elections.
“It all started when the guys were at production level after they had spend some time just pumping out water from the water-logged mine. That is when Hutepasi came and ordered them off site as he claims he is the owner of the claim site. Thoses resisting the orders to vacate argue the place is council property and no one has papers to prove that they have permission to operate at the place,” said one source
The youths returned to work at the site after other illegal mining activities were stopped at Eldorado Mine near Chinhoyi where at least more than 20 people died due to accidents with police and Zanu PF chefs from Mashonaland West being at the centre of the illegal mining activities.
Banket police have chosen to ignore the illegal activities even though the place is just a stone throw away from the police station. The Banket Town Board has folded its hands, as environmental degradation takes its toll.
There are unconfirmed reports some senior council employees are benefiting from the gold at the illegal mine, according to a report by a community environment monitor.
When contacted for comment, Banket police referred questions to the Mines ministry and argued it would be subjudice to comment as the matter was still before the courts.
Repeated efforts to get a comment from Chidhakwa or his aides were fruitless.

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