Parly to probe gold smuggling

Farirai Machivenyika

Senior Reporter

Parliament will soon probe gold smuggling as reports suggest Zimbabwe could be losing millions in foreign currency.

Chairman of the Portfolio Committee on Mines and Energy Cde Edmond Mkaratigwa told stakeholders in a meeting to discuss expectations of the mining sector from the 2021 National Budget, which will soon be presented by Finance and Economic Development Minister Professor Mthuli Ncube, that his committee condemned all forms of corruption in the mining sector, including the abuse of the First Family’s name by those involved in corrupt activities.

“As a committee, we had started an inquiry into the gold sector before the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic and we were disrupted,” he said.

“But we are going to soon resume and these are some of the issues that we want to get to the bottom of and make sure that the mining sector is cleansed.”

Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage Minister Kazembe Kazembe recently said Zimbabwe was losing at least 100kg of gold a month through smuggling.

Police arrested Zimbabwe Miners Federation president Ms Henrietta Rushwaya last month at the Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport in possession of 6kg of gold, which was allegedly destined for Dubai.

She is now in court and is jointly charged with Ali Mohamed, Stephen Tserayi, Raphios Mufandauya and Gift Karanda.

Meanwhile, Government has been urged to expedite the country’s membership into the Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative (EITI) as part of measures to improve openness and instil confidence in the mining sector.

In the 2019 Budget, Prof Ncube said Zimbabwe would join the EITI, a global standard aimed at promoting the open and accountable management of oil, gas and mineral resources.

It is supported by governments, companies and the civil society. Yesterday, Cde Mkaratigwa said it was important that the country becomes a member of EITI.

A representative of the Zimbabwe Environmental Lawyers Association, Ms Clarity Sibanda, expressed optimism that the issue will be finalised in the 2021 Budget, although there has been no mention of that in the Budget Strategy Paper.

Ms Sibanda said Tanzania and Malawi had seen increased transparency in their mining sectors after adopting EITI, which requires the disclosure of information along the extractive industry value chain, from the point of extraction to how revenues make their way through the Government, and how they benefit the public.

It seeks to strengthen public and corporate governance, promote understanding of natural resource management, and provide the data to inform reforms for greater transparency and accountability in the extractive sector.

EITI is presently being implemented in 55 countries.

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