Zim informal gold miners ‘heroes’
Police should not arrest Zimbabwe’s informal gold miners, according to central bank governor John Mangudya. He says they are “heroes” of the economy.
Mangudya said this after statistics showed that Zimbabwe was close to hitting its all-time record for gold production and clocked in 23 tons last year.
In the 1990s, Zimbabwe produced a record 27 tons, with most gold miners estimating that the country would never be able to produce more than 30 tons a year.
Zimbabwe’s gold production achieved earnings of about R13billion last year.
Mangudya, speaking at the Gold Sector Awards in Harare, said: “We need to come up with an initiative where people with gold can be able to sell it. We don’t want police to arrest people who are found in possession of gold in Zimbabwe on their way to sell it…”
Official gold producers sell their metal to the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe’s Fidelity Printers which refines it. For years, Fidelity paid less than informal miners could get for their gold by illegally exporting it. Now they can earn almost the same amount by selling it legally.
Mangudya said police should only arrest those who were smuggling gold out of Zimbabwe.
“We need to improve the ease of doing business in the gold sector. If they (gold miners) are found carrying gold, they should be given a ticket, as we do to people who commit crimes at roadblocks. lf they are not able to provide licences, they are given tickets.”
He said gold and tobacco accounted for more than 60% of the country’s exports last year. “It is against this background that we consider producers of gold and tobacco as well as all the earners of foreign currency as our heroes,” Mangudya said.
“Mining is the pillar of the economy… without it there is no foreign currency.”
Mines and Mining Development Minister Walter Chidhakwa said he agreed with the central bank boss. “We are trying to change the law to say that you shall not be arrested as long as you take the shortest and direct route to Fidelity (Printers) with your gold,” he said. – Peta Thornycroft