BY KENNETH NYANGANI THE Centre for Natural Resources Governance (CNRG) has alleged that the ruling Zanu PF party will likely use funds from illicit gold trade to bankroll its 2023 electoral campaign.
In a 35-page report released on Wednesday titled Zimbabwe’s Disappearing Gold: The Case of Mazowe and Penhalonga, CRNG alleges that the artisanal mining sector has been captured by politically-connected individuals who are likely to oil Zanu PF’s 2023 elections campaign machinery.
The report, produced by human rights activist Farai Maguwu, claims that the party has appointed Zanu PF councillor and gold dealer Scott Sakupwanya to be part of its fundraising committee, which was a clear indication that cartels in the mining sector will bankroll the ruling party’s 2023 campaign.
“Illicit financial flows in the artisanal mining sector in Zimbabwe are responsible for leakages of an estimated three tonnes of gold, valued at approximately US$157 million every month. The sector has now spread its tentacles from alluvial gold deposits along rivers and riverbeds to large scale disused mines that are now patronised by politicians and ruling party officials,” the report read.
It alleges that political elites have captured the artisanal mining sector and are keeping it informal so that they can harvest the gold.
“This led to a Godfather syndrome which saw powerful individuals with political connections tightly controlling artisanal gold mining at district and provincial level,” the report claims.
Early this week, Zanu PF political commissar Mike Bimha told NewsDay in an interview that the party was on a whirlwind tour of the country, meeting artisanal miners as part of its “Listening Tuesday” initiative.
CNRG says Zimbabwe’s mineral sector has been politicised.
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“Gold barons sponsor a tightly monitored patronage system that is recruiting artisanal miners through political offices. Artisanal miners earn a pittance while in return the gold barons get lucrative rewards.
“Over the past four years, Zimbabwe has experienced an unprecedented increase in illicit financial flows. The problem dominates the mining sector where artisanal mining is rampant. Artisanal gold mining, which has become a major mining activity in Zimbabwe, is fuelling leakages of going into the parallel system which are being run by Zanu PF cartels.”
Access to minerals has been patronised by the ruling party, which parcels out gold claims to its youth, women and senior officials, the report alleges.
As a result, mining was now characterised by lawlessness, machete gang violence and blatant disregard of human rights.
New gold discoveries in the country are brought to the attention and control of powerful ruling party officials under the guise of restoring order while there is secrecy surrounding the artisanal mining sector.
In the report, Regai Tsunga, a former opposition MP in Mutasa South accuses Zanu PF politicians of using their economic muscle to organise artisanal miners to vote for them.
Tsunga narrowly lost in the Mutasa South constituency to Zanu PF’s Misheck Mugadza in the March 26 by-elections.
“Politicians are controlling artisanal mining sites where they are using their political and economic muscle to organise artisanal miners to vote for the ruling party during elections,” Tsunga is quoted as saying in the report.
Bimha yesterday dismissed the allegations.
“I do not know anything about the allegations. These are lies, how can artisanal miners finance us? Mining in the country is governed by the government,” Bimha said.
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