2020-09-17

HARARE - Gold is Zimbabwe's chief export product. However, partly because of the country's monetary policy, an estimate of 50% of artisanal and small-scale mined gold in Zimbabwe is lost to smuggling, causing bloody turf wars that have claimed hundreds of lives.

The team produced several stories based on an investigation in the artisanal gold mining activities in Zimbabwe, which are mostly poverty driven, rural activities that have been high jacked by rich elites instigating a flurry of illicit financial flows.

Team members Stephen Tsoroti and Ankita Anand's stories in i.a. The Mail & Guardian uncover and narrate why Zimbabwean artisanal mining is prone to illicit financial flows, illegitimate wealth generated by political leadership, lack of accountability and openness, uneven national development, widening inequality and politics of patronage.

They uncover the source markets and players from these source markets, identify institutions operating above the law, and point out the lack of checks and balances in the industry compared to other competitive sectors.

Impact

In September 2020 environment groups in Zimbabwe made presentations to the Cabinet, also using the report from this investigation. As a result the Cabinet has ordered banning of riverbed and alluvial mining, and directed holders of mining titles to obtain environmental clearance.

Artisanal mining in Zimbabwe - picture by Stephen Tsoroti
Picture by Stephen Tsoroti

How nations profit from Zimbabwe’s blood gold

Team member Mazhar Farooqui, who published his story in UAE newspaper Gulf News, highlights the monetary factor in this problem.

Gold is Zimbabwe's chief export product, accounting for nearly $1.2 billion in annual forex receipts.

Around 50 per cent of the country’s gold production of 33 tonnes come from artisanal miners who deliver the yellow metal to Fidelity Printers and Refiners (FPR), owned by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe. 

On the face of it, the arrangement between FPR and ASM looks perfect. But when you scratch beneath the surface, the picture crinkles like cellophane.

As it turns out, the miners are paid 55 per cent in US dollars and the remaining in worthless RTGS dollars.  

Sure enough, instead of selling gold to Fidelity as required by law, many have turned to smuggling, causing bloody turf wars that have claimed hundreds of lives.

A nose-on-the-ground that uncovers a gold-smuggling ring that stretches from the badlands of Zimbabwe to the Middle East and large parts of Central Asia.

Painting for Gulf News by Brown Dike Ojoba aka Kingbrown
Team members

Stephen Tsoroti

Stephen Tsoroti is a journalist from Zimbabwe.

Stephen Tsoroti

Ankita Anand

Ankita Anand is an independent journalist based in Delhi.

Ankita Anand

Mazhar Farooqui

Mazhar Farooqui is a multiple-award winning investigative journalist at Gulf News, an English daily published out of the United Arab Emirates.

Supported
A grant of €13,900 was allocated on 25 April 2019
ID
MT/2019/061

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  • Inside Zimbabwe's illicit gold-mining trade - The Mail & Guardian, 18 September 2020

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