Eddie Cross drops a stunner- says Zimbabwe has lost more than US$40 million through illegal sales of gold and diamonds alone

Eddie Cross drops a stunner- says Zimbabwe has lost more than US$40 million through illegal sales of gold and diamonds alone

Economist Eddie Cross, who says he has been involved in the Zimbabwe economy for more than 60 years, says Zimbabwe has lost more than US$40 billion through illegal sales of diamonds and gold.

Writing on his personal blog, he says the country has produced about US$ 30 billion of diamonds but has nothing to show for it. He says the late former President Robert Mugabe could have made as much as US$1.3 billion from illegal diamond sales.

Cross says Zimbabwe could have lost more than US$10 billion from illegal gold sales last year. He cites a statement by the Dubai Gold Exchange that in 2023 they bought nearly 450 tonnes of gold from informal origins in Africa. “That is US$32 billion dollars’ worth, a third from Zimbabwe,” he says.

Cross, a former opposition legislator who is now close to President Emmerson Mnangagwa and authored his biography, is silent on whether Mnangagwa is involved or not.

Below is his full blog:

Serious Issues Facing us in Zimbabwe.

I have been involved in the Zimbabwean economy for over 60 years and have seen just about everything during that period. The Federation, UDI, the liberation war, the transition to Zimbabwe, the total collapse in the years up to 2008, the MAT in 2017. In this period, we have made many mistakes, some deliberate, others just because we felt we had to and others forced on us. However right now there are some things that need our attention!

Perhaps the first is corruption. Despite the formation of the Corruption Commission and many declarations, we still suffer from massive leakages of economic output and income. When I was in Parliament in 2012, I raised the wholesale theft of diamonds from the newly discovered Marange diamond fields. These covered nearly 100 000 hectares and in that year I estimated that we produced more carats than Botswana.

Production from this alluvial deposit started in 2006 and continues today. It was discovered by De Beers and then a small public company in London, was taken over illegally by the Ministry of Mines and then exploited by 6 companies, all linked to powerful elements in the Government, including the State President. My personal estimate is that Marange has produced nearly US$30 billion in raw diamonds since then. A third was probably absorbed in costs but the rest has disappeared. Mr Mugabe famously asked where US$15 billion had gone since mining had started. He knew the answer to that as I think he personally took US$1.3 billion.

Then the ongoing corruption in the fuel industry. This started soon after Independence with the formation of a State trading organisation for importing and distributing fuel. This was dismantled in the GNU from 2009 to 2013 by an MDC Minister but was reinstated soon after Zanu took back power in 2013. These corrupt practices peaked in 2014 to 2017 when world market prices tanked but prices in Zimbabwe were held at a higher level. During this period the President was again a major beneficiary.

Since the Second Republic, this network of corruption has largely been dismantled by the new Government, but if you are as puzzled as I am as to the hundreds of new filling stations opening up – all as independents and wonder why? I am told they are money laundering but I think there are millions of litres of fuel entering the country and not paying taxes or levies. The loss to the Exchequer must be almost as much as we spend on health each year.

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