By Mthulisi Mathuthu
SW Radio Africa
27 February 2014
An estimated $50m worth of gold is smuggled out of Zimbabwe every month and the country is losing more through secret financial deals, tax evasion and other illegal activities, an official at Transparency International Zimbabwe (TIZ) has said.
A Radio Dialogue report said TIZ programme coordinator Sibonokuhle Ndhlovu-Ncube further revealed that an estimated $1.7m worth of gold is being smuggled out of Penhalonga alone every year.
Speaking at a workshop on debt in Bulawayo this week Ncube said according to the Global Financial Integrity Report Zimbabwe has lost $12 billion in the last three decades.
Ncube said tax evasion and money laundering were the most common financial crimes. Tax evasion is when individuals or organizations illegally avoid paying tax while money laundering is when proceeds of crime are transformed into legitimate money or assets.
Ncube mentioned allegations of tax evasion by companies involved in the mining of gold, nickel and palladium rhodium, as well as reports of wildlife trafficking to Asia. She said these and other illegal activities were directly responsible for Zimbabwe’s economic decline. Ncube said there were laws in the country to deal with these crimes and urged financial institutions to enforce them.
TIZ Chairman Loughty Dube told SW Radio Africa that the situation in the gold mining sector was ‘reflective of the state of the entire extractive industry.’ He said there were no effective mechanisms of accounting for anything mined in the country.
He said: ‘As long as there are no proper and effective systems put in place to oversee the whole process from extraction to exporting, corrupt individuals and organizations will exploit the loop hole.’
Dube urged Zimbabwe to emulate Botswana, which he said has proper accounting and monitoring mechanisms governing the mining sector. Dube said if the mining industry was run transparently and efficiently Zimbabwe would not have problems with paying civil servants and financing essential sectors such as health and education.
These comments come at a time when the government is struggling to pay civil servants and is failing to finance public services due to corruption and mismanagement.