Stop arresting gold panners: RBZ boss

Source: Stop arresting gold panners: RBZ boss | The Herald September 12, 2016

Africa Moyo recently in ZVISHAVANE—
RESERVE Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) Governor Dr John Mangudya has urged police not to arrest artisanal gold miners operating without licences as the country needs to expand exports. Speaking during the Great Dyke Business Investment Forum on Friday, Dr Mangudya said he would urgently convene a meeting with Home Affairs Minister Dr Ignatius Chombo and Mines and Mining Development Minister Walter Chidhakwa to thrash an agreement on the decriminalisation of possession of gold.

Artisanal gold miners — popularly referred to as makorokoza — have been instrumental in delivering gold to Fidelity Printers and Refiners (FPR) in recent years, contributing five tonnes to the 18,4 tonnes bought last year.

Dr Mangudya’s sentiments come amid a surge in reports of arrests of small-scale miners despite earlier arrangements that possession of gold should not be criminalised as long as the gold was sold to FPR, a gold buying arm of the RBZ.

“We said we should not arrest artisanal gold miners, but I am informed that they are being arrested. “I think we need to allow artisanal miners to mine their gold and take it to FPR so that we generate more foreign currency and import fuel, raw materials and other issues,” said Dr Mangudya.

He said gold has become central to economic development because it generates $16 million in foreign currency every week compared to diamonds which have generated $23 million from March to August this year.

Crucially, gold exports are the second biggest in the country at $750 million a year after tobacco which generates $800 million, hence the need to remove shackles on gold production. Dr Mangudya added that it was critical to have a mindset shift and “do things differently” to transform the economy since “foreign currency does not grow on trees”.

“Our laws are too many and archaic. We need to change that and adopt laws that will help us chart a new narrative for the economy.

“I am very serious about this matter because if we don’t stop the arrest of artisanal miners, we don’t harvest gold and remember there is nothing to harvest from the fields (because of erratic rains). “We need to take hard, bold decisions to move the economy forward,” said Dr Mangudya.

The RBZ has set the tone as regards supporting artisanal miners after introducing a 5 percent export incentive payable through bond notes which are coming towards the end of October.