Govt urged to deal with illicit financial flows, as Al Jazeera readies corruption documentary

Al Jazeera documentary showing on Thursday 23 March

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Govt urged to deal with illicit financial flows, as Al Jazeera readies corruption documentary
Harare East legislator Tendai Biti

By Daniel Chigundu

Harare East legislator Tendai Biti has urged the government to consider coming up with laws to deal with illicit financial flows that are bleeding the country.

Zimbabwe is said to have lost hundreds of billions of dollars in the past decade and has continued to do so in the present due to illicit flows.

Illicit financial flows are happening in the key sectors of the economy such as mining and agriculture, which are the key pillars of Emmerson Mnangagwa’s second republic.

Former President, the late Robert Mugabe at one time pointed out that the country had lost about US$15 billion due to illicit deals in the diamond mining sector.

Small Miners Federation president Henrietta Rushwaya was caught at the airport trying to smuggle about 6kgs of gold. There have been several others too who have been caught.

Speaking in the National Assembly, Honourable Tendai Biti who is a former Minister of Finance in the Inclusive Government, said Zimbabwe is losing US$2 billion annually to illicit flows.

Biti, one of the vice presidents of the Nelson Chamisa-led Citizens Coalition for Change, added that government must enact strict legislation to deal with the issue.

‘’Madam Speaker I am concerned about the issue of illicit financial flows in Zimbabwe. We are losing over US$2 billion annually in illicit financial flows.

‘’What we are losing in terms of illicit financial flows is actually more than what we are getting in terms of diaspora remittances US$1 billion, what we are getting in terms of foreign aid or overseas development assistance and what we are getting in terms of foreign investment which is around $200 million.

‘’The major culprits are the mining houses – organisations such as the ZimPlats of this world, the Unkies of this world who are guilty of transfer pricing, thin capitalization, under-invoicing and over-invoicing,’’ he said.

The mining sector is bleeding the economy

Honourable added that the mining sector in the country is bleeding with nothing to show for it.

‘’It (mining sector) is accounting for $6/$7 billion a year, yet billions are getting out of our country. We have got 65 minerals, but they are not benefiting our country. Most of the mining model in Zimbabwe is extractive. You come in, you loot and you get out leaving total destruction, unemployment and so forth.

‘’Look at the status of Mhangura in Mashonaland West Province, it is a ghost town.  Go to Renco in Masvingo, the road there looks like a road that was built in 1492 but they have been getting gold from our country. 

‘’So I urge that the Minister of Finance and Minister of Industry and Commerce should come up with legislation that deals with illicit financial flows from this country.

‘’We are losing a billion USD from tobacco smuggling, a billion USD from gold smuggling on its own and we are now losing possibly $2 billion on lithium alone.  Lithium yavakungo pwititika muZimbabwe.

‘’As I am talking to you right now, the price of lithium is US$80 000 a tonne. That is the new black gold, and we have nothing to show for it.  Our people are suffering; 79% of our people are living in extreme poverty, 95% are unemployed, yet on paper, we are a very rich country.

‘’ So I urge that the authorities come up with legislation on illicit financial flow and push the UN to come up with an international convention that deals with illicit financial flows,’’ he said.

Al Jazeera documentary showing on Thursday 23 March

Honourable Biti’s plea comes at a time when Al Jazeera will be showing the much-awaited investigation documentary on Zimbabwe titled The Gold Mafia: Laundry Service.

The documentary is expected to expose corruption and looting that has been happening in Zimbabwe’s mining sector.

According to the schedule, the Al Jazeera documentary will be shown on Thursday 23 March 2023 at 22:00hrs, Zimbabwe time.

Meanwhile, Parliament recently concluded consultations on the Mines and Minerals Bill which is before Parliament and will be getting into Second Reading soon. The Bill is anticipated to bring order in the mining sector, as well as try to plug loopholes for illicit financial flows. #MinesBill

Govt urged to deal with illicit financial flows, as Al Jazeera readies corruption documentary

Govt urged to deal with illicit financial flows, as Al Jazeera readies corruption documentary