Three high ranking officials have joined the scramble for gold and a chance to enrich themselves after they used their positions of authority to fast track the acquisition of prospecting mining licences in Mashonaland West, Zim Morning Post can exclusively report.
President of the Senate Mabel Chinomona, Information minister Monica Mutsvangwa and former Bulawayo Metropolitan provincial minister Angeline Masuku acquired their mining licences on October 26 – the same day they had applied for them.
Insiders say to be awarded the prospecting license one should have an environmental impact assessment certificate, coordinates and an area which would have been pegged, processes which were by-passed by the Zanu PF bigwigs.
Observers say the opaque process surrounding the acquisition of licences has led to dozens turning to illegal artisanal mining.
According to papers seen by this publication, Mutsvangwa, Masuku and Chinomona paid ZWL1 000 each at the Mines ministry and walked away with their licences in hand.
They now join their counterparts who own several mining claims in the province.
The receipts confirming the payments show that Mutsvangwa’s business address is listed as 3 San Fernando Road in Harare.
The same business address is where her son Neville lost thousands of United States dollars to members of the police force who raided the property over alleged illegal foreign currency trading.
The law enforcement agents were to later get into trouble with the law after under declaring the value of money confiscated.
The receipts who that Masuku, of Box 1382, Matopos is the former Minister of State for Bulawayo Metropolitan Province and a member of the Senate.
Chinomona, of 507 Woodlands, is the current President of the Senate and also secretary of the Women’s League in the ruling Zanu PF party.
The mining industry has been dominated by top government officials among them members of the ruling party.
In Mashonaland West, gold claim owners include Mike Chimombe, Zanu PF youth league national secretary for indigenisation and Dexter Nduna, the former Zanu PF Chegutu Member of Parliament.
Chimombe has gained a reputation for flaunting his wealth on social media. He was a close associate of the late socialite Genius Kadungure and paid his last respects by seeking police clearance for the socialiate’s farewell gig.
In Mashonaland East and Manicaland provinces, Youth deputy minister Tinoda Machakaire is said to play a pivotal role in the unorthodox takeover of gold claims.
Popularly known as Tinmac, Machakaire has used proceeds of his mining activities to fund his trucking business.
In the Midlands province, reports have also fingered some senior Cabinet officials, among them State Security minister Owen Ncube and former Mbizo legislator Vongai Mupereri who spearheaded the Gaika Mine invasion and at one time defied a High Court order to vacate the mine.
Midlands is known for its vast gold and chrome deposits.
Cabinet ministers have in the past been accused of exploiting mineral deposits to amass power and further strengthen their political status.
With so many politicians allegedly playing a dominant role in the rush for gold in Zimbabwe, observers accuse government officials of bulldozing their way in, forcibly grabbing gold claims from individuals or companies who have no political connections.
Recently, Zanu PF’s Mashonaland West provincial chairperson and Justice minister, Ziyambi Ziyambi, was accused of arm-twisting David Whitehead Textiles (Pvt) Ltd’s judicial manager, Knowledge Hofisi, so that he grants him a consent letter to explore for minerals.
Reports claim that Ziyambi also arm-twisted Hofisi to overturn a mining consent letter that had been given to another company, Zuvarabuda Empowerment Trust, in his favour.
The rush to acquire prospectus mining licences comes as bigwigs and politicians are using all the means at their disposal to build their war chests ahead of 2023 elections.
The recent arrest of Henrietta Rushwaya on charges of attempting to smuggle 6kg of gold may have exposed how politicians and their connections could be looting the country dry as they rush to enrich themselves.