KWEKWE City Council has raised a red flag over the mushrooming of illegal settlements in some parts of the town which it says is disrupting service delivery.
Artisanal miners from nearby places like Silobela and Zhombe, who are flocking into Kwekwe in search of gold, are erecting illegal structures around the city. They are not only destroying the water pipes but are also creating illegal dumping sites.
Mud huts have been built at the Gokwe turn-off where there is no access to clean water and ablution facilities.
Kwekwe Town Clerk Lucia Mnkandla, said the local authority was concerned about the mushrooming of illegal settlements. The illegal settlers were vandalising the main water pipeline in order to access clean water.
“Council is deeply concerned over the mushrooming of illegal settlements around the city. The miners are vandalising water pipes and council is losing potential revenue through those leakages. We also fear for contamination of the water through chemicals used for gold purification,” she said.
Mnkandla said efforts to remove the settlers have been daunting. They have had to conduct joint operations with the police to restore order in the mining town.
“We normally conduct joint operations with police and the environmental management agency to chase away the miners but they keep resurfacing.
“However, it is difficult to access the vandalised areas because the artisanal miners have turned the area into restricted zones and are attacking anyone planning to repair the vandalised pipes,” she said.
Ward 3 Mbizo Councillor, Melody Chingarande, said residents were now living in fear of machete wieldingillegal miners, commonly referred to as“makorokozas” who also terrorized entertainment places like beerhalls in Mbizo suburb.
“Makorokozas are well known for causing violence at beerhalls hence Mbizo residents are now living in fear. Police in this area have recorded more cases of violence, intimidation and murder caused by makorokoza,” she said.
Kwekwe Residents and Ratepayers Association (KKRA) chairperson Alex Homela said the local authority should prioritise issues that benefit the ratepayers.
“Our city is facing so many challenges and we cannot exonerate the local authority. While there are challenges induced by the illegal miners, council is exposing residents though poor waste water management,” he said.
The artisanal miners’ invasion comes on the backdrop of the local authority battling to manage waste water. The authority was recently fined for discharging raw effluent into Sebakwe Dam.
EMA Midlands provincial manager, Benson Bhasera, said Kwekwe town council was guilty of environmental pollution.
“Under the Act, local authorities and/or companies are prohibited from discharging toxic or poisonous substances into public water bodies, rivers and or streams,” he said.
Bhasera said EMA had also ordered the local authority to rectify the issue before the residents were exposed to contaminated water.