Police express concern over gold smuggling

POLICE have expressed concern over the surge in cases of gold smuggling especially at Beitbridge Border Post where some transport operators are reportedly stashing large sums of gold inside fuel tankers to evade arrest.

VENERANDA LANGA

Addressing legislators attending a capacity-building workshop in Kadoma last week, Zimbabwe Republic Police’s Chief Superintendent Oskah Mugomeri (Minerals Unit) disclosed that a lot of smuggling of gold happened at the border with South Africa.

“We had several cases of gold smuggling along the South African border, and those cases that have been identified may be fewer than those that have not been identified. Some of the gold is smuggled inside fuel tankers — they can go to the extent of cutting a fuel tanker to put the gold and replace it with a new tanker after smuggling,” Mugomeri said.

He also expressed at some of the lenient sentences imposed on smugglers, saying lighter sentences fuelled the crime.

His colleague Chief Superintendent Tichafanana Sithole (Law Division Unit) said police had adopted a soft stance on gold panners in a move meant to encourage them to regularise their operations.

“As police we have not stopped operations to check activities of gold panners [artisinal miners], but we have suspended aggressive operations against them and have encouraged them to form syndicates in order to be able to raise money to pay fees to formalise and register their operations,” Sithole said.

“We are also inundated with calls of people involved in land disputes where gold panners encroach on farming land and we advise them to seek recourse with the courts,” he said.

RBZ moves to assure investors

POLOKWANE — There are no restrictions on offshore borrowing to fund local operations, Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) deputy governor Kupukile Mlambo has said.

TARISAI MANDIZHA
BUSINESS REPORTER

In his presentation at the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Zimbabwe (ICAZ) investor conference here on Friday, Mlambo said the bank offers a flexible environment for investors.

“The only requirement is that as from September 1, companies seek RBZ prior approval when contracting offshore loans in excess of
$7,5 million, up from $1 million before.

“This requirement is not put to deter borrowing, but is mainly meant for monitor and balance of payments purposes,” Mlambo said.
He said the reformed exchange control regulations will also allow free payment on interest and capital on borrowed funds without any restrictions.

Mlambo, however, said there were no restrictions on outsourcing of a technical nature on both the local market and abroad such that companies would be able to hire foreign expertise without restrictions.

He said with effect from last month, all non-resident Zimbabweans in the Diaspora are permitted to invest in any listed counter on the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange without any limits.

The participation of non-resident Zimbabweans on ZSE had been increased to 70% from 40% in 2004 to allow the participation of Zimbabweans in the Diaspora on the local bourse.

Mlambo said the government had removed all exchange control restriction on the level of foreign participation on primary issuance of bonds and participation by foreign investors in the secondary market.

He added that investors are also allowed 100% remittances upon request, saying that RBZ had removed the restrictions on the disposal of immovable property and remittance of the proceeds by foreign investors.

Before that, foreign investors were allowed to subscribe for up to 35% of primary issues of bonds provided the purchase was financed by inward transfer of foreign currency through normal banking channels.

Mlambo said the bank was currently undertaking a number of policy measures to promote financial sector stability.

“The bank is implementing sound risk management system in the form of Basel II and III, which are benchmarked to international standards and establishing of the Zimbabwe Asset Management Company to deal with the problem of non-performing loans in the banking sector,” Mlambo said.

He said the bank was also at an advanced stage to establish a Credit Reference Bureau which will assist in limiting the incidences of loan defaults in the banking sector which are aimed at enhancing the financial intermediation role of banks which benefit investment.

Non-performing loans in the sector rose from 1,6% in 2009 when the country adopted the multi-currency to 18,5% ($705 million) as at June 2014.

Chidhakwa says to make public govt audit on diamond miner Marange Resources

MUTARE,– Mines Minister Walter Chidhakwa said government will publish the results of a financial inquest at its diamond mining firm Marange Resources, one year after it was commissioned to shed light on its dealings, and will insist that other gem miners make theirs publicly available.

Minister of  Mines, Walter Chidhakwa

Minister of Mines, Walter Chidhakwa

Last week, pressure groups, the Centre for Research and Development (CRD) and Zimbabwe Natural Resource Dialogue Forum (ZNRDF) called on government to make public the results of its audits, before it moves to consolidate the firms to “one or two.”

Government owns Marange through its mining investment arm, the Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation (ZMDC).

“It was not an audit, it was just a team that we set up to look into the activities of Marange Resources to take us to our desire to merge (diamond minders) and create one big company,” Chidhakwa told The Source on Monday by telephone interview.

“What we are doing now is to look at the structures of the new company that will come up. So we will publish (the Marange Resources audit) once we finished working on it and registered a new company under the consolidation.”

He did not give a time line, but said the report will be made public ‘soon.’

Chidhakwa said government is currently merging Marange Resources, Gye Nyame and Kusena Diamonds.

Other diamond miners in Marange include Anjin Investments, Diamond Mining Company, Jinan and Mbada Diamonds.

Gye Nyame Resources, a joint venture between the state-owned Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation (ZMDC) and Bill Minerals, represented by Ghanaian businessman William Ato Essien, had its licence revoked earlier this year due to insolvency and failure to adhere to environmental requirements.

Chidhakwa said the merging process requires aligning the financial system, human resources and legal structures of the three firms into one.

On making public financials of other miners, Chidhakwa said: “All you need to do is ask the companies the specific firm which carried out its audits and get them from there.” – The Source

Oil reserves ‘discovered’ in Zimbabwe

via Bulawayo24 NEWS | Oil reserves ‘discovered’ in Zimbabwe 28 September 2014

The state media reports that Zimbabwe could become an oil and gas producer following strong indications of significant reserves of the resources in northern parts of the country.

According to Sunday Mail, government has already commissioned mining research experts to determine the extent of the potential reserves in the Zambezi Valley.

Earlier exploration by hydrocarbons giant Mobil Oil in the 1990s concluded there was nearly “100 percent potential of gas” and a high possibility of oil occurrence in the region.

However, authorities did not prioritise further exploratory work then due to various competing national issues such as the military intervention in the DRC and the fast-track land reform programme.

But with several African countries recently announcing oil and gas finds, such as in Mozambique and Namibia, interest has been rekindled and authorities have revisited the matter.

Mines and Mining Development Secretary Professor Francis Gudyanga told The Sunday Mail: “We are working on that, but I think it is too early to make it public.”

This paper has gathered that Government mandated a team of experts to confirm the existence of the oil and gas reserves. Geo Associates and Invictus Energy Resources are assisting the Mines Ministry and the Geological Survey Department in the project.

Research shows that hydrocarbon deposits occur in sedimentary geological features less than 300 million years old.
Zimbabwe has three areas holding sedimentary geological features that fit the profile – Karoo (150-300 million years), Cretaceous (50-140 million years), and Kalahari (four-50 million years). Of these, the Zambezi Valley — which sits on Karoo sediments in the Cabora Bassa Basin — holds the most potential for gas and possibly oil.

Between 1989 and 1993, Mobil Oil explored a part of the Zambezi Valley in the Cabora Bassa Basin spanning 30 120 square kilometres.
The company concluded the area was likely to have gas, a finding corroborated by German Geological Survey BGR. BGR analysed the data and carried out extensive fieldwork and indicated the area potentially held high volumes of recoverable gas.

However, no actual drilling took place.

Sedimentologist and geological consultant Dr Dennis Shoko, who worked with Mobil on the initial exploration, said: “The work carried out by Mobil was very extensive and the results they produced were very positive. Their surveys included airborne geo-physical work. They worked on the structure of our basin in areas such as the Mana Pools, the Cabora Basin and Zambezi Basin.

“Their conclusion was that there was an almost 100 percent potential of gas, which then makes having oil a possibility. They then proposed to have a joint venture with Government to begin work that included drilling and setting up a 4km-deep borehole. But at that time, Government said it was not a priority and turned down the joint venture.”

He added: “In recent years, an oil leak was discovered in Lupane, meaning there is high chance that there is oil in the Cabora Basin, which covers the north part of the country and the area between the escarpment and the Zambezi River. Remember we also share this basin with Mozambique, which has also discovered oil.”

Investec Energy Resources’ Mr Scott Macmillan said the oil reserves — if confirmed — could turn around Zimbabwe’s economy.
He said the subject would feature prominently at the Mining Indaba scheduled for Harare next week.

“The resources could potentially provide the country with a significant new revenue base and create thousands of direct and indirect jobs, be utilised as feedstock for gas-fired power turbines and bring about a solution to the perennial power shortages as well as provide energy security for the country.

Renewed hunt for gold in Penhalonga

THE dust road meanders down to the Mutare River, then breaks into a dirt path.BY CLAYTON MASEKESA

Red dust puffs up as hundreds of fatigued, barefoot illegal gold miners march in single file, carrying hoes, picks and shovels.

Women, schoolchildren, young and old men wade across the river to the eastern bank. There they cut trees, overturn rocks, and push the debri into Mutare River, choking it with mud.

The disconnected sound of hammers drowns out the rush of the river.
Saungweme Mountains and Mutare River close to Redwing Mine have been besieged by the illegal gold panners.

Pushed by endless poverty, desperate illegal gold seekers have begun a new wave of panning, tearing down Zimbabwe’s countryside in Penhalonga’s DTZ Ozgeo Redwing Mine in search of the precious stone.

They are leaving behind a trail of destruction that includes devastated fields and forests, mud-choked rivers and mercury-tainted water along the Mutare River.

Widespread hunger that has wreaked havoc in the small mining area has forced virtually everybody regardless of gender or age to join the gold rush following the closure of the mine in March this year.

Penhalonga has become synonymous with gold panning where gold seekers follow mining concessions belonging to the gold mining concern.

The Environment Management Agency (EMA), closed sections of the Russian-owned DTZ Ozgeo operations along the Mutare River.

EMA stopped the company from mining, ordering it to rehabilitate land where it carried out previous operations and to complete an Environment Impact Assessment (EIA).

Environment minister Saviour Kasukuwere has said the government will not entertain appeals by the Russian gold miner to be allowed to resume alluvial mining operations at the mine.

The miner, a 60/40 joint venture between Econendra of Russia and the Development Trust of Zimbabwe, in May this year appealed to Parliament to lift a ban on alluvial mining saying it would be forced to dismiss its nearly 500 workers following the closure of the mine.

“We are not backtracking on our stance because DTZ has not communicated with us. Even if they do, it won’t be of any significance,” Kasukuwere said.

He said the ministry was updating legislation to include a ban on riverbed mining practised by several companies.

“We took a decision as government that mining along riverbeds will not be tolerated. The law will prescribe the certain minimum conditions that have to be met before mining can go ahead as in the case of DTZ,” Kasukuwere added.

However, like many of the young unemployed youth, Privilege Kamusoko (25) has joined the gold rush, after hearing that Penhalonga was “overflowing” with gold.

“All I am looking for is survival. I want to survive and fend for my family. I’m here because of hunger, because there is nothing for my family, no food for them,” he said.

Kamusoko, who is one of many Gwejas (illegal gold panners) said in a “lucky” week, he can make more than US$500 from selling gold at US$40 per gramme, but most of the money is used to buy food.
The buyers come from in and outside the country. They are seen milling around the nearby business centres in Chinyanjera and Tsvingwe.

The two business centres have become a hive of activity owing to the cash that is exchanging hands.

“There are many teenagers doing this. If you come in the evening, you’ll see the sheer number of people mining here who come back to their camps in the mountains,” said Kenneth Madziwachando from Tsvingwe in Penhalonga.

Displaced from farms during the farm invasions, hundreds of desperate and poor people have ventured into illegal gold mining in Penhalonga, leaving a trail of environmental destruction of unprecedented magnitude. Farmers, environmentalists, and traditional leaders are alarmed by the destruction.

Mutare River is fast filling with silt, harming ecosystems as well as farming, fishing, and drinking water. The illegal miners cut and burn wood indiscriminately to fuel their makeshift camps.

The illegal panners use mercury and cyanide to separate gold from the ore, and then flush the toxins into the same river.

A visit to some of the mining fields in the area revealed that the illegal panners arrive at the river in the afternoon and during the night in search of the precious mineral.

“Before, there was a lot of gold and few people panned for gold because that time there was food and people didn’t care about gold. Right now, because there is hunger all over, people have come from all over to mine and are competing to have the few pieces of gold,” said Madziwachando.

Children have also joined in the gold hunt and, like countless others, are missing out on education. They have traded the education books for the pick and shovel and are hoping for a golden ticket out of poverty.

Manicaland police spokesperson Assistant Inspector Luxson Chananda said he was still to get information on the new gold rush.

“As of now, I do not have complete information on the invasion of the mine by the gold panners. We will do some investigations and I will come back to you with full information,” said Chananda.

Nevertheless, Chananda said, the police have been urging people to desist from illegal gold mining as it has many dangers associated with it.

The community’s hopes rest on the establishment of mining laws that promote investment and development.

“What we need are international investors to come in and mine for gold and benefit the community,” said Chief Mutasa.

“We need the government to offer licences to locals to do proper mining by giving them claims. This will provide some jobs to the local community and some basic services.”

According to police, an estimated 400 illegal gold panners are refusing to vacate Mutare River banks and Saungweme Mountain in Penhalonga.

Villagers and residents in Penhalonga’s Tsvingwe high-density suburb said the illegal panners were causing serious social problems in the area such as drug and alcohol abuse, prostitution and violence.

Kwekwe mayor refuses ride in the gravy train

HOW many people, upon landing a lucrative job, would turn down a brand new US$68 000 Double Cab Toyota D4D offered by the employer?By BLESSED MHLANGAProbably none.

The majority of us would welcome such a top-of-the-range vehicle, which would naturally earn us a few glances from curious admirers, but for Matenda Madzoke, the mayor of Kwekwe, the vehicle was a sheer waste of ratepayers’ money.

In a rare show of humility, Madzoke refused to accept the official mayoral vehicle and instead opted to have the money, which had already been paid to acquire it, purchase two refuse collection trucks.

Council had already deposited US$30 000 with Croco Motors and was awaiting delivery of the brand new wheels, but the city could not persuade him to ride in wheels that mark one’s status in the society.

Madzoke would have been allowed to own it as part of his package after five years of service at the helm of Kwekwe City Council, like what happened with his predecessors.

“I am no better than anyone in this great city and therefore should not pamper myself with the money earned by the sweat of Kwekwe residents when refuse is piling in their homes, potholes are opening up everywhere and the city is struggling to pay workers,” said Madzoke.

Elected councillor on a Zanu PF ticket, Madzoke stands out in his party for refusing to be pampered using hard-pressed ratepayers’ money at the expense of service delivery in a country where political players are known for their penchant for expensive cars and luxury.

A reverend at Christ Apostolic Church Worldwide Revelation, Madzoke, who owns his own fleet of cars but sometimes chooses to ride to his office and around town on a bicycle, said teachings from his church were also instrumental in the decision not to accept the car.

“I can say the teachings from my church were influential in the decision I made, apart from the fact that I am not a politician but a civic leader who has a heart to serve the people ahead of my own interests.

“Our church has unique teaching because we are taught to serve the people first before we take care of our own interests and you would agree with me that getting myself a top-of-the-range vehicle at this time would be against this teaching,” he said.

Madzoke has also clashed with council management who have been looking to spend nearly US$200 000 on luxury vehicles for top management.

An initial attempt to purchase a US$120 000 worth Toyota Prado for the Town Clerk Emanuel Musara had to be shelved after a tender for its purchase had already been flighted.

Now Musara is pushing to get a US$68 000 Chevrolet, while the other four mangers are also in the hunt.

Council has refused to endorse a resolution for the purchase of the vehicles, saying they are too expensive for the cash-strapped local authority which is now owed US$20 million by government and ratepayers.

“You will see that the nation is facing serious economic challenges and Kwekwe is not an exception and it will be insensitive for us to dole out such huge amounts of money on management when we are failing to provide the basic service delivery for the ratepayers,” said Madzoke.

Despite leading a council with seven Zanu PF councillors and an equal number from the MDC-T, Madzoke has won the support of MDC-T councillors who believe he is miles ahead of former mayors.

“He allows debate to flow smoothly and when he sits in the mayor’s chair, you won’t know if he his Zanu PF or MDC. Madzoke has managed to keep us focused on the growth of Kwekwe and its people instead of getting involved in petty political fights,” said MDC-T councillor Weston Masiya.

The mayor said his job is made easier because he is not a politician but just a civic leader whose main role is to facilitate development of Kwekwe on behalf of its owners.

“I am grateful that the councillors easily bought my vision, it might be true that we were sponsored by our political parties into office but we are here to serve the people, not parties. Kwekwe is our subject, it is not owned by councillors or their political parties but by residents, some who don’t even care about the political parties that gave birth to us and they should be protected and served,” he said.

Married to Clara Madzoke née Green since 1990, the couple is blessed with 12 children, four boys and eight girls. Madzoke, who still looks youthful, says he might not be running for office again.

“I think I will just have to do my best now and leave it for others to take their place in the development of this town,” he said.

Madzoke may quit the mayoral office when his terms expires, but he will surely go down in history as the mayor who stood his ground against looting of the few resources available in the city and for striving to make council accountable to the ratepayers.

Madzoke, an electrical engineer by profession, owns and runs one of Kwekwe’s leading electrical companies called Birdale Electrical Services and is also involved in farming.

“These two businesses are the ones which ensure I manage to take care of my family and therefore I don’t look at council to earn a living,” he said.

When he is not riding his bicycle, Madzoke goes around in a double cab Isuzu KB280D while his other posh cars are normally used by his wife.

“I believe I should treat my wife like a queen, she is the pillar of my strength and most of the times she takes a leading role to ensure I dispatch my civic duties effectively. she is gifted.”

As his parting shot, Madzoke told The Standard that he had realised that children in most council schools in Kwekwe were suffering from hunger and some were fainting during class.

“I am going to have a meeting with farmers in this city so that we can feed these children, the situation is pathetic and my hope is that as farmers, we will be able to help ensure they get porridge when they come to school in the morning,” he said.

Zimbabwe looks beyond East

ZIMBABWE should look everywhere to grow the economy, Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa said yesterday, an admission that the “Look East” policy had not yielded the desired results.

TARISAI MANDIZHA
BUSINESS REPORTER

Zimbabwe adopted the Look East policy in 2003 after being slapped with economic sanctions by the West over alleged human rights violations.

Speaking at the Zimbabwe-International Monetary Fund (IMF) relations breakfast meeting in the capital yesterday, Chinamasa said no matter how difficult the situation was, Zimbabwe had tried to re-engage international financiers to gain access to international markets.

“In the interest of the country, we should look everywhere in order to move forward and that means we should look to the East, to the West, to the North and to the South. There should be no area we say we are not looking at to exploit opportunities for our country,” he said.

“As we all know, we are a small market so anyone who is serious about growing this country must look to the export market and that means looking everywhere.”

Despite looking East, particularly China, Zimbabwe has not reaped tangible benefits to turn around the fortunes of the economy despite Beijing landing big deals.

Last month, President Robert Mugabe was in China and got commitment from Beijing that it would fund viable and bankable projects in infrastructure.

Beijing has become a darling for African capitals due to its neutral governance approach.

Chinamasa said Zimbabwe had no access to European capital as it owes the European Investment Bank $350 million.

“No matter how difficult it is as far as government has done, we have defined that it is in our interest to engage the IMF and we are doing so and we want your support. We say it’s important; unless we do so we have no access to capital markets,” he said.

Chinamasa said the decision by the IMF that Zimbabwe was not eligible for the Heavily-Indebted Poor Countries programme meant that the country had the potential to turn around its economic fortunes and “only requires of us to exploit that potential”.

“We have the capacity to put our house in order and we are not a basket case, for the reasons that we all know, what basically we need to do is to correct things. Let’s have a correct analytical picture of our economy and our challenges,” he said.