Over the past 20 years, the Zimbabwe economy has been on a declining trajectory. Long before the current political and economic woes, gold and tobacco have long been Zimbabwe’s most lucrative source of income and foreign currency. What was once one of Africa’s most diversified and self-sufficient economies, has imploded and the state is struggling to ensure adequate collection and management of revenue.
The ZANU-PF led government policies have precipitated massive inflation, currency upheavals and constant energy shortages which in turn, has led to a process of de-industrialisation, GDP shrinkage, 80 per cent unemployment and a massive exodus of the country’s own residents. The lack of transparency and manipulation of gold prices aided by the state’s monopoly has had a negative impact on more than 500 000 artisanal and small-scale miners.
In January 2014, in flagrant pursuit of rentier profit, the Zimbabwe Reserve Bank through its subsidiary entity Fidelity Printers and Refineries arrogated to itself a legal monopoly over the buying and selling of gold from producers, large and small. This report by Southern Africa Resource Watch looks at how state institutions in Zimbabwe have been used to serve private interests in robbing artisanal and small-scale miners of their gold.
It is a story of how the Zimbabwe Reserve Bank siphoned billions from the economy through the exploitation of artisanal and small-scale miners. The report shows how the ruling elite in cahoots with the reserve bank and security establishment have been sucked into illicit gold trade practices robbing artisanal miners of billions of dollars of hard-earned gold, leaving them in poverty. This state staged robbery is undermining attempts to formalize the artisanal and small-scale gold mining sector.