by VENERANDA LANGA
PRESIDENT Emmerson Mnangagwa has revealed that Zimbabwe has lost gold worth US$60 million through a syndicate of businessmen that clandestinely export the precious mineral to Dubai.
Mnangagwa made the revelations at a no-holds barred event organised by the African Parliamentarians Network against Corruption (APNAC), in conjunction with the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (Zacc) and the Transparency International Zimbabwe (TIZ) to commemorate the Anti-Corruption Day Symposium under the theme: Taking Stock of the Anti-Corruption Agenda in Zimbabwe.
The symposium had three different panel sessions, one of which grilled Mnangagwa over corruption in the extractive sector.
One of the panellists, Moses Nkomo, a lawyer told Mnangagwa that the hazards of corruption in the country would affect the attainment of a $12 billion mining sector by 2023 because there was no transparency and accountability in the mining sector.
“The risk to the attainment of this vision is corruption, which is happening on exploration of mineral wealth and we read newspaper reports that said that there are some people that did exploration but the results have been withheld and now we need to depend on their benevolence to tell us the extent of mineral wealth that we have in this country,” Nkomo said.
“Mining contracts in this country are also shrouded in secrecy and this is fertile ground for corruption because in order for someone to be given mineral rights we are no longer aware of the scope of persuasion for someone to be given a favourable deal.”
He said there were no systems to monitor actual production of minerals, adding that there was a high level of side marketing happening at Fidelity and Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation (ZMDC).
In his response, Mnangagwa narrated how during his recent visit to Dubai he learnt that Zimbabwe’s gold was being smuggled out of the country.
“On the issue of side marketing, I am not a mukorokoza (gold panner), but I was in Dubai last month and a company there said they got US$60 million gold from Zimbabwe through the black market and they even told me that the money does not come into government coffers,” he said.
“We now want to partner with ZMDC so that all the gold goes through Fidelity,” he said.
Zacc deputy chairperson Kuziva Murapa said a taskforce had since been set up to investigate the allegations.
Blessings Hungwe from the Zimbabwe Women Miners’ Association also told Mnangagwa that women miners were now very scared to venture into the industry because of machete wars.
“These (artisanal miners) come to the mines as soon as they discover that a miner has found gold and they loot it violently. It is now difficult for a woman to mine. Many artisanal miners, including women have also been benefitting from river bank mining, but now the ZMDC has taken over riverbank mining and has partnered with Belarus and these women miners are left without means of survival and are struggling,” Hungwe said.
She said there was no transparency in issuance of mining loans meant for female miners.
“In 2018 and 2019, we were told that there is $20 million for women miners, but Mr President, only five women were able to access that money and the rest failed to do so due to stringent rules,” Hungwe said.
Other miners said they experienced problems with Zanu PF bigwigs that were grabbing their mining claims.
On machete wars in gold mining areas, Mnangagwa said: “We are against that totally and those found harming others with machetes will be arrested. We want to increase the level of sentencing so that it is deterrent.”