BY Matabeleland North Correspondent
CONTROVERSIAL Zimbabwe Miners Federation (ZMF) president, Henrieta Rushwaya has accused Chinese gold dealers of swindling small scale miners.
The former Zimbabwe Football Association boss, who recently survived a bid by the Zvishavane-Mberengwa Mining Association (ZMMA) to bar her from continuing as ZMF president, was speaking at the Zimbabwe Annual Mining Conference in Victoria Falls on Thursday.
Rushwaya pleaded with government to liberalise gold buying so as to do away with “unofficial” middlemen and open the market to more legal players.
“The influx of buyers like Chinese has resulted in small scale miners being swindled as they pay low rates,” she said.
Rushwaya said there was too much illicit gold dealing on the parallel market adding stringent conditions by government are forcing scale miners to look for illegal channels to dispose off their gold.
“There is no linkage between the miner and the middlemen. This is so rampant that middlemen are trading illicitly, hence Fidelity Printers Refinery is not getting anything.
“Miners are not happy hence the low delivery of gold. As a sector, we recommend that the monopoly of Fidelity Refineries needs to be reviewed and gold trading liberalised,” said Rushwaya.
Government owned Fidelity Refineries is the country’s sole legal gold buyer.
Rushwaya appealed to the government to urgently formalise the small scale gold mining sector, arguing artisanal miners need to be linked with large scale players.
Other speakers also called on authorities to have a re-look at the country’s Gold Development Policy to address challenges facing the sector.
Rushwaya also bemoaned the rising rate of fatalities especially at disused mines where illegal miners have died including the latest in Mazowe disaster where nine artisanal miners died after a collapse about four months after 24 others died in Kadoma.
“Some gold rushes recently have led to loss of life especially at Freda Mine, Nugget Mine and Master Cecil. We need to manage this influx,” said Rushwaya..
She urged illegal miners to abide by the law and desist from invading mines.
The small scale gold mining sector has only 30 000 registered members and more than 1,5 million unregistered who account for the majority of gold output in the country.
Zimbabwe is targeting an output of 100 000kgs of gold by 2023 according to officials.