The Zimbabwe Environmental Law Association (ZELA) has called on the government to implement more stringent policies on gold in order to curb smuggling of the mineral.
ZELA noted that this recommendation was precipitated by a number of smuggling events by high profile individuals, the latest being the case of Henrietta Ruhwaya who was intercepted at the Robert Mugabe Airport with about 6kg of gold.
In their statement, ZELA bemoaned that corruption and gold smuggling among other issues have crippled the country’s efforts to leverage on its vast mineral resources and deliver basic services such as education, health and water.
“ZELA been following closely the arrest of Henrietta Rushwaya, President of Zimbabwe Miners Federation (ZMF) at the Robert Gabriel Mugabe (RGM) International Airport on allegations of attempting to smuggle about 6kgs of refined gold to Dubai. Corruption and gold smuggling among other issues have crippled the country’s efforts to leverage on its vast mineral resources and deliver basic services such as education, health and water.”
ZELA noted with concern that most cases involving smuggling of large quantities of gold from across the country implicate politically inclined individuals, as was the case of Rushwaya.
“In September, 2020, Minister of Home Affairs, Hon. Kazembe Kazembe revealed that Zimbabwe was losing at least US$100 million worth of gold every month through international smuggling rings blaming it on porous borders. The Minister of Finance and Economic Development, Professor Mthuli Ncube lamented that the country is losing significant revenue due to smuggling of gold to mostly the United Arab Emirates and South Africa. Gold is being used as a conduit for money laundering and Illicit Financial Flows (IFFs) jeopardising the country’s domestic resource mobilisation efforts to deliver quality basic services to the ordinary citizens,” the statement read.
“The critical question is what are the policy drivers and vulnerabilities that make Zimbabwe’s gold sector susceptible to smuggling and illicit gold trade? More importantly, why does gold smuggling in Zimbabwe often implicate politically exposed persons such as Rushwaya. This may, in essence show the manner in which politics and power dynamics are embroiled in gold mining in Zimbabwe.”
The organisation reiterated that there is need for the government to use advanced technology to monitor airports and boarders to ensure that smuggling of gold and other minerals out of the country is curbed.
“Custom officials, ZRP minerals unit and airlines need to improve their systems in identifying risks, vulnerabilities and exposure to illicit financial and minerals flows. There is also a need for the country to improve transparency and accountability measures in the mining sector to curb corruption and state capture in the mining sector,” the statement read.