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Increased Gold Smuggling Worries ZELA

The Zimbabwe Environmental Law Association (ZELA) has urged the government to enact stricter laws that lesson gold smuggling as the country continues to lose millions of dollars through the scourge.

The country is reportedly bleeding as more undocumented gold leaves the country through unorthodox means.

The recent case is of former Zimbabwe Miners Federation president, Henrietta Rushways who is implicated in six kilograms gold smuggling scandal, which saw some security service agents being arrested.

In a media statement, ZELA said the government must come up with laws that make it difficult to smuggle the precious mineral out of the country.

“ZELA has 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,” reads part of the statement.

The organisation also noted that it is concerning that most of the smuggling is commi8ted by the politically connected who use their political linkages to commit the crime

“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 added.

“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.,” ZELA said.

It further called on law enforcement agencies to up the ante on curbing criminal involved in the act.

“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 further reads.

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