Chinamasa says whistleblowers exposed gold smugglers caught in Plumtree recently


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The government has put up machinery to detect any illegal outflows of gold from Zimbabwe and also uses whistleblowers, Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa told Parliament last week, adding that the arrest of a man trying to smuggle about 50 kg of gold through Plumtree was through information received from whistleblowers.

One of the measures the government had taken to curb illegal exports of gold was raising the price of gold to the same price as that realised at the London Bullion Market.

“There is no incentive for people to sell gold illegally,” he said.

“Secondly, we have cut down the royalty when we buy gold especially gold that we buy from artisanal miners. It was five percent royalty and we have reduced it to three percent and now, it is one percent. I want to encourage those who are selling gold that they should sell their gold here instead of selling gold outside.

“What this august House should know is that what has led those people to be caught is because there is now a Committee comprising of Reserve Bank workers, Ministry of Mines and Mining Development and those from the Police Force which sits from time to time looking at how things are going on.

“The Committee is monitoring those who are taking gold outside the country and those who are mining, exporting the gold, how they are doing it. Investigations are going on, that is why you see that there are a lot of people who are being caught at our borders trying to smuggle gold outside the country.”

Chinamasa said it was difficult to know which people are going to commit crime and where but the government now had machinery to detect any illegal outflows of gold from Zimbabwe including whistleblowers.

“We also use whistleblowers and in fact, the recent seizure of the gold was through reports received from whistleblowers. Sometimes those whistleblowers are people who have been shortchanged in some of the deals but whichever way at the end of the day what is important is that we are able to increase the machinery that will curb the illicit outflow of gold and other precious minerals,” he said.

The Finance Minister said the decriminalizing of artisanal gold mining was also paying off.

“In the 6 months of last year, artisanal miners delivered 900 kgs or so of gold. After the measures were implemented, the first 6 months of this year, artisanal miners alone delivered 3 tonnes,” he said.

 

Q & A:

*MR. MAPIKI: My question is directed to the Minister of Finance and Economic Development, Hon. Chinamasa. What plans does the Government have in closing illegal gold markets taking place in our constituencies? People are buying gold and the Government is not benefiting at all. This is emanating from the 50kg which was intercepted at Plumtree Border Post.

*THE MINISTER OF FINANCE AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT (MR. CHINAMASA): Thank you for the pertinent question. The plans which are there in place are that we should curb the illegal gold transfer. Firstly, what we have done is that we have raised the gold prices; the prices are now the same as those ones sold at the London Bullion Market. There is no incentive for people to sell gold illegally.

Secondly, we have cut down the royalty when we buy gold especially gold that we buy from artisanal miners. It was five percent royalty and we have reduced it to three percent and now, it is one percent. I want to encourage those who are selling gold that they should sell their gold here instead of selling gold outside. What this august House should know is that what has led those people to be caught is because there is now a Committee comprising of Reserve Bank workers, Ministry of Mines and Mining Development and those from the Police Force which sits from time to time looking at how things are going on.

The Committee is monitoring those who are taking gold outside the country and those who are mining, exporting the gold, how they are doing it. Investigations are going on, that is why you see that there are a lot of people who are being caught at our borders trying to smuggle gold outside the country.

MR. MATANGIRA: Why should we allow people to steal gold first and then we use the machinery that we have as the State instead of nipping the system in the bud, that is what Hon. Mapiki asked. What is Government policy in curbing and stopping illicit gold dealings?

MR. CHINAMASA: Thank you Mr. Speaker, I am not sure I got the essence of the question. I thought that my answer to the earlier question fully explained the measures that we are taking to curb illicit outflows of gold from Zimbabwe. But over and above that, when people commit crimes, it is difficult to know which people are going to commit crime and where. At border posts, we now have machinery to detect any illegal outflows of gold from Zimbabwe but we also use whistleblowers and in fact, the recent seizure of the gold was through reports received from whistleblowers. Sometimes those whistleblowers are people who have been shortchanged in some of the deals but whichever way at the end of the day what is important is that we are able to increase the machinery that will curb the illicit outflow of gold and other precious minerals.

*MR. MATAMBANADZO: What does the law say when we are talking about the exportation of gold. We gave you some ideas on how we could go about exporting gold. Our advice was that people who are in constituencies where there is gold, they should be financed so that they can buy gold. As a result, they are being overpowered by the illegal market. The illegal market has enough to give to these secret buyers and they take the money. This is sabotage from the enemies of the State. We have given people licences but nobody has been given a cent to buy gold. Therefore, we are advising Government to finance these licenced holders so that they can buy gold and take it to Fidelity Printers and Refiners to curb the smuggling of gold.

MR. CHINAMASA: We are open to any suggestions to improve the trading of gold in the country. But the policy of Government right now is that Fidelity Printers and Refiners which is a subsidiary of the Reserve Bank is the sole buyer and refiner of gold, the law is very clear. It is illegal for anyone to export or smuggle out of any gold the country. The only authorised exporter of gold is Fidelity Printers and Refineries.  We assisted a lot of artisanal miners with respect to putting together a good facility for them; to buy equipment to facilitate their operations.

As far as gold mining is concerned, the policy of Government is that their operations are decriminalised, it used to be criminal for artisanal miners to mine gold and that is no longer the case. So, we have gone out of our way to assist our local artisanal miners to produce the gold and the measures that we have put in place have demonstrated that they are starting to bear fruits. In the 6 months of last year, artisanal miners delivered 900 kgs or so of gold. After the measures were implemented, the first 6 months of this year, artisanal miners alone delivered 3 tonnes. So, we will continue to look at where the leakages are and we will certainly take measures to plug those leaks. I thank you Mr. Speaker.

(339 VIEWS)

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Charles Rukuni
The Insider is a political and business bulletin about Zimbabwe, edited by Charles Rukuni. Founded in 1990, it was a printed 12-page subscription only newsletter until 2003 when Zimbabwe's hyper-inflation made it impossible to continue printing.

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