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‘Lasting solutions needed to curb gold leakages’

THERE is a need to come up with urgent lasting solutions towards addressing the problem of gold leakages, which continues to prejudice the economy of millions of dollars.

The Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Mines and Mineral Development has expressed this concern, as it called upon the Government and relevant stakeholders to harmonise strategies to curb the scourge.

The sentiments come at a time when reports of people being arrested or intercepted while trying to smuggle gold out of the country have been on the increase. Recently, a 33-year-old Zimbabwean man was recently arrested at South Africa’s OR Tambo International Airport allegedly smuggling 23 pieces of gold worth R11 million into the neighbouring country. Another Chinese international was also arrested while trying to smuggle 7kg of gold out of the country.

Addressing the Kwekwe Press Club recently, Portfolio Committee chairperson, Mr Edmund Mukaratigwa, said the increasing cases of gold smuggling were worrying.

“This is a serious challenge as a country, and it’s worrying. This is attributed largely to the lower gold prices being offered in the country.

You find that the 60-40 retention is not doing miners any good,” said Mukaratigwa.

“This, coupled with the mismatch between parallel market and official exchange rates, leaves miners with no option but to seek alternative and favourable prices that are being offered outside the country.

“We have a lot of undeclared gold that we believe is being smuggled out of the country. These reported cases are just a tip of the iceberg. If such an amount of gold can go out of the country, how much are we losing as a country?”

Mr Mukaratigwa, who is also Shurugwi legislator, reiterated the need to tighten security and block leakages at the entry and exit points, including embracing technology for surveillance.

“We anticipate new measures, which are both ICT oriented and adequate training and human capacity building for manpower manning our exit and entry points,” said Mr Mukaratigwa.

“You find that we have some aerodromes that are located within the bushes and such areas are poorly or not manned at all. We need such areas to have state-of-the-art technology and manpower.

“We need to formalise artisanal miners and small-scale miners and to empower them and create syndicates that are organised that can conduct organised mining.”

The committee has since called for harmonised efforts that bring together all concerned stakeholders to have input in curbing of leakages.

“We need an integrated system where police work hand in hand with other stakeholders like airport officials, ministry of mines, President’s office and everyone involved to work in harmony.

“Not a situation whereby this department is pulling that side and the other one that side. An integrated approach is key,” said Mr Mukaratigwa.

“As Parliament, we are going to ensure that the gaps are closed. On our part we are going to make follow ups and put the Government to task so that all the gaps are closed. We need CCTV at our airports as the Government makes use of technology.”

Tightening security and enforcing compliance with mining regulations is critical at a time Zimbabwe is chasing the US$12 billion mining economy by 2023. Estimates show the country is losing at least US$100 million worth of gold every month, which is being smuggled.

Gold is the country’s biggest foreign currency earner and last year the country earned US$946m from US$1,3bn in 2018 from exports of the metal. Chronicle

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