Emmerson Mnangagwa’s leftist regime in Zimbabwe introduced legislation this week to ban the ownership of machetes in areas rich in gold following a spate of violent robberies by knife-wielding artisan miners.
The Herald reports that as well as introducing a ban and mandatory jail terms, authorities are also planning to set up special courts aimed at speeding up the convictions and imprisonment of those found guilty of extortion.
Justice, Legal, and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ziyambi Ziyambi told local media last week that he hoped stakeholders would also join the fight against such crimes.
“As Government, we are extremely disturbed by the illegal activities of artisanal miners who continuously terrorize people using machetes,” said Ziyambi. “Our cultural values and ethos are at stake and it is every stakeholder’s mandate to work towards bringing sanity into the country.”
“I call for an intertwined relationship between the ZRP, Judicial Service Commission, prosecuting authorities, mining authorities, and other stakeholders to thwart their criminal activities,’ Ziyambi added.
Ziyambi also confirmed the government was “in the process” of setting up the courts that would hand out mandatory jail sentences to those found with machetes in the affected areas.
“In the same vein, I am in discussion with the Prosecutor-General and Judicial Service Commission with a view of having special courts to deal with these cases,” he explained. “We want people to enjoy the peace and tranquillity that has always prevailed in Zimbabwe.”
The push to crack down on machete-related crime comes as police statistics indicate that, in the oil-rich region of Kadoma, at least 224 machete-related crimes have been reported so far this year.
The Zimbabwe Mining Federation Secretary for Youth in Mining in Zimbabwe, Sophia Takuva, blamed the uptick in crimes on young people looking to make a quick buck.
“We are losing young hard-working citizens through machete-afflicted deaths and this must come to an end,” she said. “If stock theft has not less than nine years, why not also protect human life and a sector which contributes immensely to the growth of the country We must fight together as a country to end these wars.”
“We need to look at the distribution process, that is the selling of machetes, and I think the Government must ban the selling and importation of machetes into the country and also arrest the people who are found in possession of the machetes,” she continued.
The debate over the legality of dangerous weapons is one that continues to challenge governments throughout the world, with the United States taking the brunt of the criticism over the Second Amendment and the fundamental right to bear arms.
In recent years, governments in Germany, Austria, and Britain have all taken steps to criminalize the possession of knives and other sharp objects in a bid to curb levels of violence. However, there is so far little evidence to suggest that changes in the law will stem the number of violent attacks, with critics comparing such bans to failed efforts across the United States to impose gun control.