Illegal gold panners are wreaking havoc in Matabeleland South, damaging public infrastructure such as roads and schools as they search for the yellow metal.
Matabeleland Institute for Human Rights Coordinator Khumbulani Maphosa said it was criminal and irresponsible when they dig underneath the railway line or under the road.
“When you do that it’s criminal because you are vandalising infrastructure and it’s irresponsible because you are risking people’s lives,” Maphosa said.
He said the government should put in place stricter policing on the activities by omakorokoza.
“But beyond that we feel it is now time to ban detectors because the carriage of a detector outside the claim zone is destroying infrastructure,” Maphosa said.
“In other places they destroy some people’s houses. We have received reports on that, some are destroying school infrastructure that shows how metal detectors are destroying our infrastructure.”
It is also understood that Loreto Mission in Silobela, Midlands province is in danger of losing its infrastructure after illegal gold panners invaded the institution and dug large pits in search for gold.
Gold is the most liquid commodity as it can be easily sold.
The government estimates that the economy could be losing US$100m through the smuggling of the yellow metal.
The government has put incentives to encourage gold deliveries to Fidelity Printers and Refiners.
The sweetener includes 5% incentive for those who deliver above 20 kilogrammes, removal of royalties, and payment at the prevailing international gold prices rate.
This has triggered gold deliveries through official channels with gold deliveries to Fidelity averaging over 2.8 tonnes per month in June and July from an average of 1.3 tonnes that existed before the incentives.
Zimbabwe is targeting a US$12bn mining economy annually by 2023. Gold is expected to lead the charge with a haul of US$4bn.