…US$12 billion 2023 target under threat
ZIMBABWE’s prospects of achieving the much-touted US$12 billion transformation in the mining sector is under threat as mainly politically-connected individuals were taking advantage of porous exit points to smuggle precious minerals.
Finance and Economic Development minister Mthuli Ncube conceded during his mid-term budget and fiscal review statement on Thursday that although Zimbabwe was set for growth and could achieve its target on the mining front, leakages were affecting maximum capacity, hence the need for action.
This follows several reports that also exposed how mainly politicians linked to the ruling Zanu PF were taking advantage of political muscle, corruption and porous exit points to smuggle precious minerals including gold to South Africa, Botswana, Dubai and other countries.
Ncube said there was a need for government to immediately plug the leakages if Zimbabwe is to realise its potential in the sector.
“This will be through the monitoring of mines, air strips, aerodromes, airports and national boundaries, gold mobilisation, formalisation of small-scale mines, and conducting awareness campaigns,” Ncube said.
“Also critical is the need for government to take pragmatic steps to remove loopholes that have ensured the economy doesn’t benefit from mineral resources such as platinum and lithium by strong state ownership and participation in the exploitation of natural resources, including contributions to the Zimbabwe Sovereign Wealth Fund.”
As reported by The NewsHawks recently, gold dealers are illegally taking out the precious commodity through porous border posts where they connive with politically-connected individuals.
“The pathway is fraught with corrupt nodes that manipulate the security systems and documentation through the abuse of privileges and power,” a report by the Centre for Natural Resources Governance (CNRG) titled Zimbabwe’s Disappearing Gold: The Case of Mazowe and Penhalonga, reads.
Only 30-40% of gold from the big dealers is submitted to Fidelity Printers and Refiners (FPR) while the rest is smuggled out.
“Most gold from Mutare and Mazowe is smuggled to Johannesburg (South Africa) by road and less by air,” the report stated.
“Mutare is also a transit city for gold smuggled from Mozambique on its way to Johannesburg.”
Zimbabwe Miners’ Federation president Henrietta Rushwaya was last year caught at Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport in Harare trying to smuggle 6kg of gold.
Another Zimbabwean linked to Rushwaya was also caught at Oliver Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg, South Africa, trying to smuggle the precious mineral.
Zanu PF-linked dealers have taken over operations in the gold mining and trading deals in Mashonaland Central province, with those linked to the ruling party being roped in by struggling mines to avoid operational costs, statutory obligations and compliance, leading to serious leakages of the precious commodity at the expense of the country.