The Centre for Natural Resources Governance has revealed that smuggling went up during the lockdown as the illicit gold market adapted to the lockdown conditions in various ways.
According to a report on machete violence in Zimbabwe’s ASM gold sector released by the organisation, the closure of Beitbridge Border Post has seen a rise in organised crime as security officials on both sides of the border facilitate illegal passage of smugglers into both countries.
“RG Mugabe International Airport remained open to both passenger and cargo planes whilst the country’s porous borders remained active.
“The closure of Beitbridge Border Post has seen a rise in organised crime as security officials on both sides of the border facilitate illegal passage of smugglers into both countries,” reads the report.
The report added that the surge in machete violence in the gold sector started receding when government announced a national lockdown which commenced on the 30th of March.
“The lockdown saw police and soldiers setting up numerous roadblocks throughout the country where, among other things, people were asked to produce exemption letters authorising them to travel.
“However, two incidents of machete violence have been reported in Mbembesi, just outside Bulawayo and in Kwekwe.
“The lockdown also slowed down artisanal gold production due to limited supply of chemicals such as cyanide which is imported from countries that closed their borders much earlier than Zimbabwe,”reads part of the report.
The report added that, “Gold is one mineral which is easily mined and sold to the government and local buyers at attractive prices. Until June 2020, The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe used to pay 55 percent in United States Dollars and 45 percent in local currency for gold.
“However local black-market buyers have always paid 100% in USD, which is more attractive to gold producers including artisanal and small-scale miners given the hyperinflation associated with the Zimbabwe RTGS dollar.
“It is estimated that up to 500,000 people are involved in small-scale and artisanal mining, and in 2017, these were responsible for nearly half of the 24.8 tons of gold produced in Zimbabwe, according to the Fidelity Printers and Refiners.”
The report added that the rich pickings associated with artisanal and small- scale mining might have attracted violent criminals to the sector.
“The motive behind the so-called MaShurugwi might as well be the same with the motive that drives any other criminal to use whatever weapon at their disposal to dispossess others of their wealth.
“Failure to surrender the ore may lead to death or grave injuries. The violent act is meant to instill fear and control to those they raid,” the report says.