The Centre for Natural Resource Governance (CNRG) says it is gravely concerned with the continued smuggling of Zimbabwe’s mineral resources by politically connected criminal networks.
This follows the arrest of Tashinga Nyasha Masinire at the OR Tambo International Airport for illegal possession of 23 pieces of gold valued at R11 million or $700,000. He was intercepted on Sunday, May 9, 2021 by South Africa’s Hawks Serious Organised Crime Investigation team.
The gold was discovered in 33-year-old Masinire’s luggage and he failed to produce a permit that allows him to transport the gold.
The arrest of Masinire by South African authorities raises questions about the porosity of Zimbabwe’s ports. The smooth departure of Masinire with his loot exposes the complicity of Zimbabwe’s immigration and security authorities in the smuggling of the country’s minerals, the organisation said.
Prior to the arrest of Masinire, there was a high-profile arrest of Zimbabwe Miners Federation President, Ms. Henrietta Rushwaya in October 2020. She was found with a contraband of 6kg of gold.
Rushwaya is yet to be cleared by the courts and remains the President of the Zimbabwe Miners Federation. It has also since emerged that Masinire is either Rushwaya’s driver or used to be one.
Zimbabwe continues to lose billions of dollars annually to organized criminal syndicates which have spread their wings from diamonds, chrome, gold, semi-precious gemstones, coal to copper, among other minerals.
The syndicates abuse their proximity to power and defraud Zimbabweans and the central government of funds that should be expanding the country’s revenue base and improving the socio-economic lives of Zimbabweans.
Today taxpayers bear a heavy burden of funding government expenditure when mineral resources that should be exploited for the purposes of improving the social and economic conditions of every Zimbabwean are being plundered by a few, CNRG said.
According to CNRG, the continued smuggling of minerals through Robert Mugabe International Airport and other ports signal a lack of political will by the political leaders to address the problem or their complicit involvement with criminal networks prejudicing Zimbabwe.
It, therefore, calls on the Zimbabwean government to thoroughly investigate the circumstances in which minerals such as gold are smuggled out of the country through RGM International Airport.
It wants the Parliament of Zimbabwe to carry out a thorough investigation into the smuggling of minerals and recommend executive action to halt the scourge and the Anti-Corruption Commission to investigate the role of the Zimbabwe Miners Federation and politically connected cartels in the smuggling of minerals, it added.
CNRG also wants the judiciary to consider the smuggling of minerals as a high-level crime and impose deterrent sentences on members of criminal networks involved in the smuggling of minerals while Fidelity Printers and Refineries make public the register of gold buyers and dealers in Zimbabwe.
By Theodora Aidoo
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