In their vicious search for the precious metal, daring illegal gold miners in Kwekwe, Zimbabwe, have now besieged what used to be the residence of the British Royal Family during the colonial Rhodesian epoch- a move believed to have the blessings of senior ruling Zanu PF officials, writes NYASHADZASHE MAJONI.

The Royal Palace, located in the ancient Globe and Phoenix suburb of Kwekwe is historically venerated for having been the official residence of Queen Elizabeth II during her several visits to pre-independent Zimbabwe (then Rhodesia) and as gathered by Zwnews, the derelict vintage building is now being used as a guest house by Kwekwe Consolidated Gold Mines trading as Homestake Mining Company.

But, a visit to the then aristocratic residence by this publication on Friday revealed a sorry state of affairs with scores of illegal miners engaging in their illegal panning activities within the premises of the colonially venerated stately site- apparently unperturbed by the safety risks posed by the life-threatening shafts birthed by their interdicted, unorthodox mining methods at the place.

In similar fashion, the miners have also completely destroyed a tarmac located outside the Royal Palace- rendering the road impassable by motorists and haulage trucks from mining tributes around the area.

Irate illegal miners restrained Zwnews staffers from taking pictures of the deep shafts, threatening the scribes with unspecified action. But sources privy to the mining activities at the place revealed that the issue has the blessings of senior ruling party and Zimbabwe Government officials who hold multiple mining tributes in the gold-rich Midlands mining town of Kwekwe.

Kwekwe is also the hometown of President Emmerson Mnangagwa. Ironically, the environmental damage caused by the unconventional undertakings of the illegal miners lie in diametric contrast to claims by Mnangagwa’s so-called Second Republic which is on record publicly advocating for infrastructural development and a corrupt-free society.

“This has been going on for close to two months now and it is quiet apparent that these Makorokozas have the backing of ruling party bigwigs bent on fleecing the country of its mineral resources for their self-serving motives. It’s actually unheard of that people can prospect for gold anywhere, including roads. The office of the Kwekwe District Administrator is quite aware of the happenings and the police seem to be playing a blind eye to these activities,” said a reliable source who declined to be named for fear of political victimisation.

The source also added, saying:

“What puzzles us is the fact that these activities are taking place only a stone-throw away from the offices of the Environmental Management Agency (EMA) Kwekwe district and there is no doubt that police authorities have been gagged by some invisible forces with big political muscles to- not only speak no evil, but also to neither hear nor see any evil about these illegal activities”.

An official from Homestake Mining Company identified as Ngulube refused to shed light on the matter, referring our reporters to the Mine Manager, Tevey Paji.

During the time of publishing, efforts to get hold of Paji proved fruitless as his mobile phone could not be reached.

While confirming the development, Kwekwe City Council’s Director of Works, John Mhike said:

“The situation is really bad and we are going to engage authorities from ZRP Kwekwe Central for the way forward”.

Midlands police spokesperson Emmanuel Mahoko could not be reached for a comment on the issue.

more details to follow…