Security operatives from the army, police and central intelligence are operating illegal mines and take part in million—dollar leakages of precious minerals, a report by the parliamentary portfolio committee for Defence, Home Affairs and Security Services has revealed.
The report, which the committee presented to parliament in September 2022, also blames Fidelity Gold Refiners (FGR)—an arm of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ)—and the security services for poor monitoring of the minerals, resulting in serious leakages.
Below is an excerpt from the report:
“It was reported by mining communities that some deployed law enforcers collude with illegal gold and diamond miners and traders at mining sites, at designated and undesignated entry and exit points.
“People in Chiadzwa openly stated that state security had the habit of allowing illegal diamond miners and buyers passage into diamonds zones in exchange for kickbacks.
“At some gold sites, it was reported that members of the state security had their own pits mined on their behalf by illegal miners and the gold produced would never find its way to Fidelity.”
Government has for years deployed the army, police and national intelligence agents to the vast diamond fields at Chiadzwa in Manicaland province to provide monitoring and security services.
Ironically, local civil society organisations (CSOs) and communities in the Chiadzwa area complain of excessive human rights abuses by the state security agents who routinely raid homes to purportedly flush out illegal miners.
The CSOs and villagers claim that the agents arbitrarily beat up people, rape, steal assets and demand bribes from community members.
Community members and border officials who talked to the parliamentary committee complained that the security agents spent too long in mining areas and at the land ports without being changed, giving them room to consolidate their corrupt activities.
They said there were “acts of collusion between law enforcement agencies and illegal diamond miners and buyers at roadblocks”.
The committee report says Zimbabwe is suffering estimated multi-million leakages of gold, diamonds, platinum, base minerals and semi-precious stones.
The leakages involve a wide range of actors, from artisanal miners to large scale producers.
“There was an acknowledgement by most of the stakeholders that interacted with the committee that there are leakages of minerals.
“The quantum could not be ascertained but estimates indicate that this runs into millions of American dollars.
“The leakages were prevalent across all minerals, with the gold sector at the top, because there are many players involved that include artisanal and small-scale miners, millers, gold buyers and large-scale producers,” reads the report.
The committee partly blamed laxity at FGR for gold leakages, accusing Fidelity of failing to deploy personnel to monitor the production and sale of the mineral to ensure transparency, accountability and efficiency.
It made this accusation in reference to Redwing Mine in Penhalonga, Manicaland that has been swarmed by artisanal and small-scale miners after the mother company, Metallon Gold, failed to properly manage the company
The Redwing goldfields have been attracting negative attention of late after Scott Sakupwanya, a young local miner and member of the ruling Zanu PF, took over most of the claims.
His company, Better Brands that was recently banned and quickly unbanned, has been accused of human rights abuses for alleged violence on competing miners and villagers, wanton environmental damage and reported externalisation of gold.
The goldfields recorded 21 deaths within a year from January 2022 due to unsafe working conditions, with some of the fatalities being blamed on other artisanal miners.
“Fidelity Gold Refiners were not stationed at the mining site (Redwing) to facilitate the buying of gold. There were high chances of under declaration of gold produced and finally sold through formal channels,” says the committee dossier.
Small-scale gold producers informed the committee that FGR was taking too long to pay miners, resulting in them resorting to unregistered buyers offering cash on delivery.
“There is suspicion of massive under declaration of gold produce at elution plants. The absence of Fidelity Gold Refiners and State security agencies such as the Flora and Fauna Unit of the Zimbabwe Republic Police, compromises the security of minerals at processing or cyanidation points,” added the committee.
The report also blamed porous land borders that made smuggling of minerals easy, pointing out that there were at least 21 illegal crossing points on the Mozambican border.
Official land ports “did not have enough modern scanners to detect gold, diamonds and other minerals” while officers manning the points lacked the capacity to identify the minerals.
There were no national security agents to monitor and verify production quantities at some of the mines, among them Renco Mine near Kadoma that is owned by RioZim.
“The Committee could not rule out the possibility of under declaration of gold because there were no government officials at any of the privately owned gold mines in the country to verify or monitor production statistics at the source,” stated the report.