BY REX MPHISA
CUSTOMS and excise officers will soon be trained on how to evaluate minerals as government moves to plug under-declarations of mineral exports, Mines minister Winston Chitando has said.
He said his ministry and that of Finance and Economic Development, under which the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority falls, were discussing how to equip customs officers so they are able to detect possible under-declarations of exports.
“We are discussing with the Ministry of Finance on the way we can have this intervention and in due course we will overcome this challenge,” he said while responding to journalists in Beitbridge on Monday.
Zimbabwe has been losing billions of dollars in mineral wealth smuggling and through under-declaration of minerals which some experts in the banking and mining sectors said were some of the many methods used to externalise foreign currency.
Chitando, alongside the Zimbabwe Consolidated Diamond Company officials, were touring a multi-million exploration camp in Beitbridge which was established by Alrosa, a Russian diamond firm, and ZCDC to investigate the presence of diamonds.
It has already been established there are indeed diamonds on 15 special grant areas in Maitengwe and Beitbridge, which form the Malipati Diamond Project.
Deliveries of gold at Fidelity Printers and Refiners has dropped over the last two years, plunging by 73% in September to close at 1,36 tonnes from 2,8 tonnes in the comparative period in prior year owing to rampant smuggling.
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This year’s gold deliveries are expected to end the year at 25 tonnes, nine tonnes less than what was delivered in 2018 when prices were much lower than this year. More than 34 tonnes were delivered in 2018.
A high-profile court case involving suspended Zimbabwe Miners Federation president Henrietta Rushwaya over charges of attempting to smuggle gold bars weighing 6kg to Dubai, the United Arab Emirates, has sparked debate in the country over leakages of the precious minerals and how much smuggling is costing the country.
Many customs officers based at Beitbridge Border Post told NewsDay that they did not know all the minerals the country exported and only rubber-stamped documents presented for exports.