…report exposes massive gold leakages
…key political players in dubious deals
ZANU PF-linked dealers have taken over operations in the gold mining and trading deals in Mashonaland Central provinces 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, it has emerged.
The dealers with political connections, according to a report by the Centre for Natural Resources Governance (CNRG) titled Zimbabwe’s Disappearing Gold: The case of Mazowe and Penhalonga, politically connected individuals including one only identified as Kedah believed to be fronting for Zimbabwe Miners Federation leader Henrietta Rushwaya and gold dealer Scott Sakupwanya, were dominating the gold-buying syndicate in Mazowe, Mashonaland Central province.
“Kedah is said to be working with Henrietta Rushwaya and Scott (Sakupwanya). Whilst Kedah is said to be linked to some political heavyweights in the ruling party, CNRG could not establish these individuals,” the report reads.
According to artisanal miners, Kedah supplies Fidelity Printers and Refiners (FPR), while others intimated that not all gold that goes to Kedah, let alone other buyers, finds its way to FPR.
“The informal nature of the operations of Kedah makes it impossible for FPR to trace whether all the gold he acquires is remitted. The acquisition of a gold buying licence is largely a cover to mop up gold for resale on more lucrative international markets,” the report reads.
“Most of these buyers remit a bare minimum to FPR to justify the continued renewal of the licence whilst diverting the bulk to lucrative international markets. The licenses are also a guise to divert and justify gold possession to law enforcement agents.”
The report exposed a “modus operandi” at Redwing and Mazowe gold mines, both owned by Metallon Corporation and now partially taken over by Zanu PF officials insisting that several other closed mining companies in Zimbabwe have also adopted the same model.
“These mines have been leased to Zanu PF officials or politically connected businesspeople who employ artisanal miners for provision of cheap labour,” the report reads.
”The companies have avoided operational costs and possibly statutory obligations as well as regulation and compliance that come with properly operating a gold mine in Zimbabwe. The companies have subtly evaded full accountability of the gold production from mines.”
It also emerged that broader pathway of gold supply to gold smuggling syndicates uses its registration with FPR to access gold from artisanal miners and millers.
“The pathway is fraught with corrupt nodes that manipulate the security systems and documentation through the abuse of privileges and power.”
“It was discovered that most of the gold is pillaged, concurring with Hunter et al (2021) findings that only 30 – 40% of the gold gathered by large gold buyers is submitted to FPR for the purpose of maintaining trading licenses while the rest is offloaded onto the cartel platforms.”
“It was also observed that for one to get a gold buying license, he or she has to be deeply allegiant to Zanu PF. Zanu PF has also been using artisanal mining as a carrot to attract political support from youths,” the report reads.
The report also exposed the smuggling of gold into neighbouring South Africa and Mozambique by buses.
“Most gold from Mutare and Mazowe is smuggled to Johannesburg (South Africa) by road and less by air. Mutare is also a transit city for gold smuggled from Mozambique on its way to Johannesburg.”
Mazowe, located about 50km from Harare in Mashonaland Central Province, is one of the gold-rich areas in Zimbabwe. The Mazowe gold fields have several mines, with the parent mine being Mazowe Mine owned by Metallon Corporation Ltd whose owner is South African citizen Mzilikazi Khumalo.
Mazowe Mine, which also comprises Jumbo Mine, is currently under care and maintenance after Metallon Corporation was forced to close the mines in 2018 due to ‘unsustainable costs of running them without proper compensation for its proceeds from the Government of Zimbabwe.
Since the closure of Mazowe Mine in 2019, the area has been swamped by artisanal miners in the Jumbo, Masase, Manzou and Satellite claims.
Jumbo Mine was once one of the epicentres of Machete gangsters, also known as MaShurugwi, who terrorized artisanal miners and communities as they robbed gold and USD cash from the artisanal miners and community members.
Artisanal miners have continued to take advantage of Mazowe Mine’s lack of capacity and thronged the area in search of gold.
Gold buyers too have camped in Mazowe to wipe whatever is produced by artisanal miners.
“In Mazowe, there are systematically organised networks of actors, from miners to buyers, forming a conglomeration of activities on one site. Although the entire mining field belongs to Mazowe Mine, each site has a ‘manager’ to which these actors register and get approval and space to carry out their operations.”
“Starting with mining, there are thousands of pits over the 2939 hectares of land and hills of Mazowe from which artisanal miners extract gold ore.
“The miners are either ‘sponsored’ by dealers who provide tools and food for their upkeep or they self-sponsor. Ore from the pits is sent to the mills that are located at convenient sites or camps where the gold will be won.”