Factional politics rock efforts to plug smuggling syndicates

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Security chiefs’ efforts to plug rampant smuggling syndicates are facing resistance from sections of ruling party elites who are making a killing through the smuggling of precious minerals, which has seen the country losing close to US$2 billion through illicit financial flows this year alone, the Zim Morning Post can report.

Sources told Zim Morning Post that one camp in the ruling party has vested interests in the illegal trade of gold and diamonds while the other camp has hedged their bets on land.

“It is the camp which has interests in the precious minerals sector that wants to keep a handle on the movement of precious minerals and at the same time the other camp wants to ensure that the camp which is vested in the precious minerals is removed from the game,” said an impeccable source.

“Remember both camps are using all means at their disposal to build a war chest for impending elections.”

The factional implications follow an indaba held recently whose agenda came hard on the heels of the alleged October 26 Henrietta Rushwaya Dubai gold heist.

Sources told the Zim Morning Post that smuggling of both gold and diamonds has reached unprecedented levels prompting the security chiefs to hold a crisis meeting.

In attendance at the meeting was President Emmerson Mnangagwa, Vice President Constantino Chiwenga, VP Kembo Mohadi and State Security minister Owen Ncube.

Among those present on the security sector were Defence Forces Commander, General Valerio Sibanda, Zimbabwe National Army Commander, Lieutenant General Edzai Chimonyo, Air Force of Zimbabwe, Air Marshall Elson Moyo and Central Intelligence Organisation Director-General, Isaac Moyo.

“In a no-holds-barred-meeting, the security chiefs made it clear that smuggling has become a security threat and if not addressed it may further cripple the economy which is already on its knees,” said the source.

“Investigations which were presented in the meeting point to a situation where hundreds of people are now holders of gold buying licenses issued by Fidelity Printers and Refiners.”

“Several people who have been found in possession of gold quickly produce these gold buying licences and are eventually set free,” said the source.

The source also told this publication that the amount of gold deliveries to Fidelity has significantly dropped yet there are hundreds of agents purporting to be mopping gold around the country on behalf of Fidelity.

The country’s highest security referral body agreed to cancel all gem stone licenses, particularly those of gold and diamonds.

“A decision has already been arrived at. In the coming weeks several licences will be cancelled and stakeholders will be vetted before another certificate is issued,” the source said.

Zim Morning Post understands that all gem stones, particularly gold and diamonds, would now be licensed under very strict conditions.

Gold Miners Association of Zimbabwe chief executive Irvine Chinyenze recently told Zim Morning Post that the country lost gold ranging between 25 tonnes and 30 tonnes as at end of October to smuggling.

“A report from South Africa states that in their system they received at least 25 tonnes of smuggled gold from Zimbabwe,” Chinyenze said.

“It is difficult to quantify how much Zimbabwe has lost because you cannot quantify an illegality but smuggling is rampant.”

Chinyenze said the only way out is to rectify the problems that are causing miners to opt to smuggle instead of delivering their gold through official means.

“Fidelity has had a fair share of challenges relating to the movement of cash. There are also problems with regards to the pricing regime which is not consistent with what is on the world market. These are variables that cause smuggling,” he said.

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