Home » Governance » Cash Starved Govt Vows Gold Dealers’ Crackdown

THE government has moved to clamp down on errant gold millers who have continuously dodged its Fidelity Printers and Refineries preferring to sell to illegal but better paying outsiders.

Speaking during the Question and Answer session in Parliamentary Wednesday, Mines Minister Walter Chidhakwa said, starting this week, inspectors comprising the police and other relevant departments would be dispatched to all the 218 gold milling firms to check if their operations were above board.

Chidhakwa talked tough, insisting government would hunt down all errant gold dealers who continue to prejudice the state of potential revenue from the country’s gold mining activities, through smuggling the precious mineral.

“Can l take aantage of this august body to relay a message to those that are not delivering gold to Fidelity Refineries that we are ready, we now have the resources to get to everybody and it does not matter who you are,” Chidhakwa said.

“If you are not sending gold to Fidelity, we will close you down. Let that message go clearly to every one of our milling plants.”

The minister was responding to a question by Zanu PF legislator Hubert Nyanhongo who wanted to know how government was responding to rampant smuggling in the precious mineral.

It is a strict requirement under Zimbabwe’s mining laws for all gold dealers to trade the produce through Fidelity Printers, a routinely broke central bank’s gold buying unit.

Top government chefs have been fingered in gold smuggling scams which have seen millions of dollars spirited away by the cartels.

Chidhakwa said his ministry is now ready to dispatch 10 teams to visit all gold millers under its radar to see if their operations were above board.

“We have created a portfolio based system where we have a team of government officials from Fidelity, the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe, Ministry of Mines, Zimra and the police who will constitute a team,” he said.

“They will be allocated a certain number of milling plants to look after they will have 10 milling plants. Their job is to visit those milling plants, ensure that the systems are in place, ensure that the gold is being delivered to Fidelity and they will do so at least once every month.

“We believe that if we are able to harness the milling plants, those who are producing or mining ore must bring it to the milling plant and this is why is critical for us to get it at the milling plant level.”

In October last year, cabinet approved a raft of measures recommended by the Mines Ministry’s gold mobilisation committee to ensure all gold extracted from the country’s soils was channelled through Fidelity Refineries.

This was after government had noted that nearly half of the 218 milling companies in the country were not registered. The firms were also not delivering their gold to Fidelity Printers despite evidence they were doing brisk business.

During that period, government ordered the closure of 11 of the companies and asked them to register with the system.

It has emerged however that despite the interventions by government, a number of the firms were still trading the mineral outside the formal system.

Chidhakwa also revealed that there was fierce canvassing by some gold dealers to be considered under government’s $100 million facility due to be unrolled as a way of assisting millers with machinery to improve their operations.

He was however, adamant those seeking to benefit from the facility must deliver gold to Fidelity Printers.

“They cannot be friends to Chidhakwa and hope that by virtue of being friends to Chidhakwa they will get equipment. They will get equipment only if they delivering gold to Fidelity Refineries,” Chidhakwa said.

Source : New Zimbabwe