Porous bor­ders blamed for min­eral leak­ages

The Herald (Zimbabwe) - - Harare Metropolitan News - Elita Chik­wati Se­nior Re­porter

THE Min­er­als and Bor­der Con­trol Unit has ad­mit­ted that the coun­try’s bor­ders are porous and that the law should be amended to re­duce leak­ages in the min­ing sec­tor.

The rev­e­la­tions were made on Mon­day when the unit ap­peared be­fore the Mines and En­ergy Com­mit­tee.

The com­mit­tee wanted to find out why there were min­eral leak­ages de­spite the ex­is­tence of the MBCU, which is re­spon­si­ble for en­sur­ing that min­er­als are pro­tected.

The MBCU claimed they were not ad­e­quately re­sourced to stop the leak­ages.

Re­tired Se­nior As­sis­tant Commissioner Si­lence Pondo, who was in charge of the unit from 2006 to 2014, ad­mit­ted the bor­ders were porous.

“In terms of leak­ages our bor­der is porous. It is porous to the ex­tent that, for ex­am­ple, in the Beit­bridge area you can­not cover the whole stretch of the bor­der,” he said.

“This unit in other coun­tries is given a re­ten­tion of five per­cent of the re­cov­er­ies. In other coun­tries such as South Africa, they have min­er­als fin­ger­print­ing ma­chines trough which they are able to de­tect if the min­eral is from their coun­try or not,” he said.

“We had a case in­volv­ing one of our neigh­bour­ing coun­tries where we had enough ev­i­dence that the gold (120kg) smug­gled was ours but we could not sat­isfy that coun­try that the gold was ours.

“If we had this machine, it was go­ing to be easy for us to do that,” he said.

The other is­sue that emerged was that po­lice were also be­ing paid al­lowances by the min­ing com­pa­nies. This com­pro­mised them. “In terms of the reg­u­la­tions this is nor­mal even in foot­ball po­lice of­fi­cers are paid as pri­vate duty al­though over­all it is the duty of po­lice to look after lives and prop­erty,” he said.

Rtd Asst Comm Al­son Mpofu said po­lice were at the mines but did not in­ter­fere with the op­er­a­tions leav­ing a loop­hole.

“Yes, there are leak­ages when it in­volves min­er­als. Min­er­als on their own are al­most ready cash and while you are deal­ing with high value min­er­als means the po­lice de­ployed on the site also need to be paid so that they are not com­pro­mised.

“There were in­stances when di­a­monds where es­corted from Chi­adzwa to Harare and po­lice of­fi­cers es­cort­ing the min­er­als were paid by the min­ing com­pa­nies and that com­pro­mises their du­ties and it im­pedes good gov­er­nance,” he said.

Rtd Ass Comm Mpofu said the re­spon­si­bil­ity of manag­ing the bor­der did not have to fall un­der the Min­er­als Unit.

“The Min­er­als Unit should con­cen­trate only on min­er­als. The bor­der unit deals with flora, fauna and poach­ing and this tends to over­stretch the unit which is un­der-re­sourced. They are not highly mo­bile. They do not have travel and sub­sis­tence al­lowances for of­fi­cers de­ployed and that alone is a prob­lem,” he said.

“We have a hand­i­capped unit which does not have re­li­able ve­hi­cles to po­lice or pa­trol and do not have money to pay in­form­ers,” he said.

Ass Comm Mpofu said al­though there was some suc­cess in terms of ar­rests, the unit could not se­cure con­vic­tions be­cause of the laws.

“Our laws are flawed - the laws that gov­ern the mines and min­eral ac­tiv­ity. If the law giver does not amend the law it im­pedes the ac­tiv­i­ties of the po­lice try­ing to curb leak­ages of di­a­monds and min­er­als,” he said.

Zvisha­vane Ngezi leg­is­la­tor Cde John Holder said Murowa Di­a­monds never re­lied on po­lice of­fi­cers for se­cu­rity and had an ef­fi­cient CCTV.

“Why is it that it is not the same with Chi­adzwa and Marange? The loop­holes are cre­ated in order to loot. It is le­galised il­le­gal min­ing,” he said.

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