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» » Zanu PF youths resist vacating illegal Banket gold mine


​The youths are selling gold on black market

BY ELVIS DUMBA
Following publication by this newspaper of a story on an illegal but lucrative gold mine that is run by Zanu PF youths in Banket, who have reportedly been given the green light by Mines minister Walter Chidhakwa, authorities have moved to restore order at the site, although this has been met with stiff resistance from the youths.
When our news crew visited the mine site this week, the unemployed youths, led by Ward 22 district youth chairperson Steven Zidana, were busy carrying out illegal prospecting for the precious mineral.
Zidana said they were in the process of regularising their activities and were to secure a special grant to mine in the area.
"We are hopeful that we will successfully lodge the required paperwork to continue with our work. We have applied for a special grant to the ministry and also to Zvimba Rural District Council," said Zidana.
''I don't see any reason why we must be stopped from operating at this site as this is our only source of livelihood, these youths you see are all unemployed. There are no jobs and this is part of youth empowerment our government is offering young people," he said.
Banket Town Board Administrator, Ngozo Chipata confirmed receiving a request for a special grant from the youths but declined to reveal the decision taken by council before referring this reporter to the syndicate.
''Yes we received their request and after our full board meeting we have responded to them and you can contact them on our position'' she said
Sources however said council had shot down the request and ordered them to stop operations.
Controversy has perennially surrounded the lucrative mine with authorities reluctant to act on the errant youth brigades who allegedly sell the gold on the black market.
The youth gangs reportedly have Chidhakwa's backing as he canvasses for support ahead of crucial 2018 elections. Chidhakwa, who is also Zvimba South legislator, and his top cronies are allegedly benefiting from the mine proceeds.
Efforts to get comment from Chidhakwa were fruitless.
A court case involving another Zanu PF-aligned group, led by Wonder Hutepasi, is still pending two years on after another syndicate was moved off the site by police and the Environmental Management Agency (EMA) for defying environmental regulations.
Last week, EMA descended on the mine and fined the youths $300 for illegal gold extraction without carrying out an environmental impact assessment as required by law.
However, the defiant youths are continuing with their illegal gold panning unhindered. LOCAL

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