Mining

Corruption rocks Mines ministry

TINASHE MAKICHI

Top officials in the Ministry of Mines and Mining Development are parcelling out already occupied mining claims to cronies and politicians prejudicing government of millions of dollars, a latest Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (Zacc) report shows.

The mining sector has been dogged by underhand dealings amid revelations some individuals were holding onto claims for speculative purposes forcing government to order the use it or lose it policy.

A report, “The Impact of Corruption on Zimbabwe Mining Sector”, presented at a Zacc meeting held in the capital this week revealed multiple malpractices and corruption in the sector fuelled by a syndicate involving Ministry of Mines and Mining Development officials.

The report revealed that officials from the Ministry of Mines and Mining Development were demanding hefty bribes from potential miners for the smooth licencing, issuance and transfer of certificates.

The report done by Albert Makochekanwa, a University of Zimbabwe economics professor, said several mines ministry officials have been complicit in the various mining disputes happening across the country.

Makochekanwa said the officials were issuing licences on already occupied mining claims after allegedly receiving hefty bribes, especially in cases involving politically exposed people.

“I would not want to say these officials are the most corrupt, but the issue is that the awarding of mining certificates and licences has been subject to corruption from the surveys that we did,” Makochekanwa said.

“We have had situations where a lot of people are being displaced from the mining areas after corruption would have happened in the offices.

This entails that some certificates are being backdated to facilitate the smooth takeover of already occupied mining land.

This has been prevalent for some time now and it is critical that going forward, the government should introduce an electronic system to curb this.”

Makochekanwa indicated that provincial mining directors have also been part of a syndicate fuelling corruption in the country’s mining sector as they were the ones with vast knowledge on the location of minerals.

Makochekanwa said there was lack of transparency in the awarding of various mining licences and certificates, a situation which has provided an opportunity for the mines ministry officials to engage in various forms of corruption.

“The mining licence application process is not transparent and whether deliberate or something else, but this has fuelled corruption in the mining sector.

The process on its own is littered with unnecessary bureaucracy,” Makochekanwa said.

Efforts to get a comment from the Minister of Mines and Mining Development, Winston Chitando, were futile as he did not respond to questions sent to him by last night.

The latest report comes on the heels of controversies regarding mine grabs across the country by people connected to politicians, allegedly with the blessing of the ministry’s bureaucrats.

The past few months have seen hostile grabbing of mine claims including a Mashonaland East-based lucrative gold mine, which has sucked in senior officials within the Ministry of Mines and Mining Development.

A Maramba-Pfungwe family represented by Trymore Chipepwe was allegedly fraudulently and corruptly removed from a mining consortium named Jeke Mining.

The take over implicated politicians in the area and top officials at the ministry (names withheld).

Business Times is reliably informed that Zacc and the Special Anti-Corruption Unit are currently investigating the matter.

It is alleged that the Jeke Mining syndicate provides about 7kg of gold every three weeks and according to a letter submitted to Zacc, the proceeds are being used to oil top mines officials.

Last year, more than 10 mines ministry officials were suspended over allegations of corruption and related malpractices in the awarding of mining claims.

It is also understood that Mines and Mining Development Ministry officials were reluctant to fix the certificate issuance problems because these have created loopholes, resulting in corrupt officials manipulating the system.

This has resulted in massive gold leakage onto the parallel market, unending claim disputes, and illegal mining among other challenges.

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