15 March 2014, Harare – Zimbabwe appears to be a long way from plugging mineral leakages that have cost the economy billions in potential revenue as it emerged the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe’s wholly owned printing and gold buying subsidiary — Fidelity Printers — has not received gold seized by police for prosecution purposes.
Parliament’s Mines and Energy portfolio committee was this week stunned to learn Fidelity Printers has been unable to follow up on impounded gold as it has no power even after government declared it the sole buyer and exporter of the precious metal effective January 2014.
Gold that is seized by the police mostly at various ports is supposed to be declared to Fidelity Printers, but this has not been happening, Fidelity Printers CEO Alen Marimbe said in response to the committee’s inquiry.
Committee members alleged police often stole the exhibits to line their pockets, replacing the valuable metal with cheaper minerals like brass.
“It is an issue we need to closely liaise with the police so that we have a mechanism that links what ZRP is doing and us expecting the gold to be brought to us,” Marimbe said.
“What we need to do is to follow up on the gold.”
By the end of the session, the committee was considering inviting Police commissioner general Augustine Chihuri to give a brief on the whereabouts of all the impounded gold.
Fidelity gold production director Fred Kunaka said gold leakages have been worsened by government’s decision to liberalise the sector on introduction of a multiple currency regime in 2009 and formation of the GNU as the gold buying company had no mechanism to account for activities of each and every player under the free for all set up.
In an update of Fidelity’s progress towards performing its sole gold buyer, refiner and exporter function, Marimbe said the company had made significant progress around the country with a licensing process at an advanced stage.
The first phase targets millers while the second phase is looking at establishment of mobile agents to reduce traveling distances and security risks to miners.
“We have enough money to buy all the gold and all those who make deliveries are being paid on the spot,” Marimbe said.
– Zimbabwe Independent