Mashudu Netsianda, Senior Reporter
ZIMBABWE is losing at least US$100 million worth of gold every month, which is being smuggled out of the country through porous borders with Government now in the process of rolling out measures to plug the leakages.
Gold is the country’s biggest foreign currency earner. Last year, the country earned US$946m from US$1,3bn in 2018 from exports of the metal.
Some of the measures that Government is working on to plug the leakages include installing a sophisticated computerised system at the country’s border posts and airports which will be able to detect illegal activities.
Treasury also intends to procure 500 police vehicles as part of raft of measures to help fight crime and improve efficiency in terms of policing and fighting corruption among other illegal activities.
Speaking during a familiarisation tour of selected police stations in Bulawayo on Friday, Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage Minister Kazembe Kazembe said Government was concerned about the leakages of gold, among other precious stones, which prejudices the country of US$100 million every month.
Minister Kazembe said as part of a raft of measures to fight smuggling among other criminal activities, his ministry is in the process of equipping the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) with modern technology and channelling more resources towards the fight against crime.
“We are losing close to US$100 million worth of gold every month which is being smuggled out of the country through our borders. Criminality has become complex and sophisticated given that perpetrators are harnessing technological advancement to enhance their criminal activities,” he said.
“In fact, it’s common knowledge that emerging crimes such as cybercrimes are redefining the policing terrain. There is therefore, the need to capacitate ZRP with technologically aided crime prevention, investigation and detection equipment in order for the organisation to keep abreast of criminal sophistry. Smart policing is, indeed, the way to go.”
Minister Kazembe said Treasury is in the process of procuring 500 cars for use by police in combating crime. Already, drones for use in patrolling borders, have been acquired.
“The Ministry of Finance and Economic Development is in the process of procuring 500 more vehicles for police although they may not be enough. This is a process and going forward more resources would be availed to address the challenges faced by police in the fight against crime,” he said.
Minister Kazembe said they are working on a roadmap to harmonically computerise all the departments in his ministry since they work hand in hand.
“We want a situation where if somebody is coming into our country and upon presenting their passports, the immigration officer can tell that this person is on the police wanted list. The same should also apply with police that if there is someone who has just come into the country, they should be able to tell that the culprit has just entered our borders,” he said.
“This is already happening in other countries and our technical team is working tirelessly towards achieving that goal and they already have the matrix and the scope of work has been done.
“We are installing a sophisticated system in our borders and airports that will be able to automatically identify culprits without them even knowing.”
Minister Kazembe urged police to shun corruption and assured them that Government was seized with measures to improve their welfare.
“Shun corruption and fingers are being pointed at the police that they are corrupt. We may have bad apples, but nonetheless we have a duty to perform and mandate to maintain peace and security. Generally, police are doing a good job and they should also play a leading role in curbing corruption and leakages of minerals, especially gold which is finding its way out of our borders,” he said.
“We will never lose sight of the fact that effective policing is a very expensive exercise though it comes along with invaluable rewards in the form of peace, stability and investment attraction. A safer and secure environment remains a critical enabler in attaining an upper middle-income economy 2030 as espoused by His Excellency, President Mnangagwa in Vision 2030.”
Minister Kazembe also commended police for remaining steadfast in maintaining law and order and professionally discharging their duties by thwarting planned demonstrations by anti-Government elements pushing the illegal regime change. “Zimbabwe is a peace-loving nation and the people will never be hoodwinked into blindly serving interests of a few misguided elements at the expense of the common good.
Furthermore, the security architecture of the country, including ZRP, is very much prepared to continue ring-fencing the tenets that define us as a people, that is peace and stability,” he said.
The minister also lashed out at the opposition for peddling falsehoods on social media claiming that there was gross violation of human rights in the country. — @mashnets.