‘Govt promotes lawlessness with exorbitant gold dealing licence fees’
The decision by the government to peg gold dealing licence fees at US$200,000 has been viewed as an outrageous move capable of promoting lawlessness in the precious mineral industry in Zimbabwe.
The RBZ quickly moved to issue another statement on Tuesday saying that only gold refiners will pay US$200 000, while permits for gold-buying agents cost US$2 500 per annum.
According to the Statutory Instrument 32 of 2023 published by Finance Minister Mthuli Ncube in the Government Gazette on Tuesday, the new fees were announced in terms of section 19 of the Gold Trade Act (Chapter 21:03).
“IT is hereby notified that the Minister of Finance and Economic Development, in terms of section 19 of the Gold Trade Act [Chapter 21:03], made the following regulations:-
“1. These regulations may be cited as the Gold Trade (Licence Fees) (Amendment) Notice, 2023 (No. 1).
“2. The Gold Trade (Licences Fees) Notice, 1978, published in Rhodesia Government Notice 256 of 1978 is amended by the repeal of paragraph 1 of Schedule 2 and the substitution of-“SCHEDULE 2 (Section 2)
“Licence Gold dealing licence Fee US$ 200 000.00.”
In an interview with Nehanda Radio, Centre for Natural Resources Governance (CNRG) Farai Maguwu said the move by the government to raise gold license fees without consulting key stakeholders was going to promote lawlessness.
“The fee is too exorbitant and will encourage illicit activities. Government must not impose laws and policies that are set to fail, thus promoting lawlessness.
“It is also critical that fees are not pegged impulsively, but rather after consulting all the key stakeholders such as the Chamber of Mines, Zimbabwe Miners Federation etc. With proper consultation, decisions are collectively owned by stakeholders and this benefits the country,” he said.
Analyst Pride Mkono, however, told Nehanda Radio that it was necessary for the fees to be raised in order for the government to raise as much revenue as possible.
“Obviously, the key issue when it comes to licensing gold dealers, it is important that the fees are high because gold is a very lucrative mineral and therefore the government must collect as much money from those licenses as possible and then fund the public service department. That is not really the problem,” Mkono said.
The prominent political activist said the problem was corruption in the gold sector. He cited one case of President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s niece and Zimbabwe Miners Federation (ZMF) boss Henrietta Rushwaya who was arrested in 2020 trying to smuggle 6kg of gold worth more than US$330,000.
She has since been acquitted after telling the court that she had picked the wrong bag.
“The problem has always been the corruption around the licensing process and the behavior of those that have been licensed. We know a lot of gold dealers are smuggling gold out of the country and therefore the country does not get the full benefit that comes with the mineral.
“The key problem there is that these dealers then smuggle that gold out of the country. There are several cases where those issues have been reported; Henrietta Rushwaya’s case where she was caught attempting to smuggle gold to what we also saw from the snippets 9f the soon to be released Al Jazeera documentary focusing on gold smuggling and money laundering.
“I think those are the problems that arise but it’s a good thing that government should have to collect as much revenue as possible from gold so that they will be able to fund social services like education and health,” Mkono said.
In 2020, the Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce revealed that Zimbabwe was losing up to US$1 billion in revenue from gold smuggling along its porous borders.