- November 27, 2019
- Posted in LOCAL
Machete-wielding gangs are terrorising music shows, demanding free entry and torching violence, making artistes think seriously about going to smaller towns.
They get the name MaShurugwi from the small Midlands town located on a mineral-rich greenstone belt, known in this area as the Selukwe Schist Belt and the centre of a chromite, gold and nickel mining area.
Some of the artisanal miners became aggressive and now have given their name to all groups, usually armed with machetes, who force others off their panning claims or who just cause trouble. And Midlands is just one affected province.
MaShurugwi do not only give musicians laborious tasks of deciding on whether to hold shows in certain areas or not, they have also threatened musicians’ potential income by unleashing violence at shows or forcing their way into gigs without paying.
ZORA musician Leonard Zhakata recalls when he was forced to let people enjoy his show for free after violence sparked by MaShurugwi broke-out at the midst of his show in Chipinge, Manicaland Province.
Zhakata said they rely on spying on these ‘gangs’ and at times engage their leaders in their programmes, as a way of buying safety.
“We sometimes encounter their clashes here and there. We make sure at every show there is police presence, especially in areas associated with artisanal mining gangs.
“There is huge cost involved in trying to deal with issues of security and sometimes in those areas where the situation is very tense, we spy to know the purported gang leaders and try to involve them in some way.
“I remember when there was gold rush in Chipinge some time back and MaShurugwi came there, police officers were out-numbered. We saw police officers taking off their hats running for dear life.
“The situation only normalised after the arrival of military police. The show became free for all,” he said.
Sungura musician Romeo Gasa said he had witnessed some clashes between the gangs in Mazowe, Chakari and Empress Mine.
“We will be very afraid, but this is our work and there is nothing we can do. I have learnt to dance according to their tune and perform to our best standard, trying not to cross their paths. They do not want shoddy jobs,” he said. Simon Mutambi said he has played in areas like Shamva, Mt Darwin, Chinhoyi and Glendale where artisanal miners’ gangs usually clash.
Although his band has never been forced to abandon shows because of violent clashes, he believes law enforcement agents should act and deal with such people. The Herald