A report authored by an anonymous citizen says that the highest circles of government in Zimbabwe are involved in gold smuggling; if the report is true and acknowledged by the government, the consequences could be far-reaching
Zimbabwe is reported to lose more than $800 million in gold monthly to illegal activities by international cartels as well as local smugglers.
An unofficial document authored by a concerned citizen first disclosed the number and is now making its rounds in government circles, reaching Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa and being forwarded to Vice President Joice Mujuru. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank are also said to be among the recipients of the report.
If even part of the findings are true, the controversial document could go on to live in infamy. Not only is Zimbabwe struggling to balance its economy, with an unemployment rate of over 80 percent slumping recovery down to a near-halt, but the document also reveals that various cabinet ministers as well as other government officials might also be in on the illegal gold deals; the document alleges that these officials pocket various amounts of the precious metal for themselves without going through government channels to register gold that has been mined – as is required by law for all minerals. Therefore, the lost gold doesn’t flag up as missing.
The gold is then supposedly smuggled out of the country, where it fetches even higher rates than it could on the Zimbabwean market. It is alleged that most of the illegal smuggling takes place via South Africa.
The anonymous author of the document described the transactions as cash-only deals, which are impossible to track. Some of those consignments are said to add up to over 50kg per transaction on a daily basis.
“Everything is sent out of the country illegally, with the blessing of senior government officials. Due to the size of each consignment it’s easy to hide and move across international borders. Profits are externalised.”
Zimbabwe is home to an estimated number of over 1,000 gold mining establishment, many of which are under suspicion of selling bullions to the black market. But with half a million Zimbabweans under employment at these gold mines and with government officials accused to be involved in the corrupt deals, it would appear to be difficult to clamp down on such illegal activities.
The author of the report warned that the illegal gold trade and international smuggle could be used to finance terrorist groups.
“Apart from the negative impact that this has on the Zimbabwean economy, we are more concerned about the money laundering aspect associated with this illegal trade. Money laundering of this magnitude puts the South American drug cartels to shame, with Zimbabwe being the key contributor to what could become a threat to regional stability, assuming nothing is done to stop it,” he said in an interview with THE ZIMBABWEAN.
Official numbers reveal that the report could well be truthful: the Zimbabwe Artisanal Miners and Small Scale Council (ZAMSC) reports that gold production has decreased significantly from about 17 tonnes in 2004 to just over 900kg in 2013. ZAMSC has also acknowledged the prevalence of smuggling, attributing the dwindling values reported in gold mining and production to such illegal activities.
Further precedent supporting the allegations was set with the 2010 WikiLeaks release of US diplomatic communications, mentioning probes into diamond smuggling among high-ranking government officials in Zimbabwe, including members of President Robert Mugabe’s family.
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