POLICE have accused politicians of abusing the Minerals Act by doling out mining licences to youths as a vote-buying gimmick, thereby fuelling smuggling of precious minerals such as gold.
Head of the Minerals and Border Control Unit, Chief Superintendent Didymus Sakarombe, made the remarks during a mining workshop for the media in Harare last week.
“We are concerned about the high spate of allocation of mining rights by some politicians during election period,” he said.
“Those who could have failed to execute some developmental projects in their constituencies are giving youths mining rights as a means of luring them to vote for them into political office.
“As police, we are against any form of abuse of law. We will act, as no one is above the law. These moves are abusing the Minerals Act.”
He revealed that at times, police have failed to secure conviction of some suspects who were illegally exporting large quantities of smuggled gold to South Africa and Botswana, that have better incentives compared to Fidelity Printers and Refiners, a subsidiary of Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe.
“We do not have incentives for whistle-blowers who help us pin down some of the suspects,” he added.
But Zimbabwe Miners’ Federation chief executive officer Wellington Takavarasha said government had no clear policy on how to handle small-scale miners, who were said to be contributing 65% of the country’s gold output.
“There are no good policies for administering small-scale miners. We have many unregistered miners, yet the government and local councils want charges that are exorbitant without considering the development aspect of mining,” he said. NEWS DAY