Gold smuggling is a problem in Zimbabwe with the country estimated to be losing an estimated $100m a month in 2020. Gold smuggling is believed to be carried out by Zimbabwe’s ruling elite and politically connected.
According to a 2020 research by the International Crisis Group (ICG), $1.5 billion of gold is smuggled out of Zimbabwe every year. The report by ICG said the gold is smuggled to Dubai.
Process of Selling Gold in Zimbabwe
Gold extracted in Zimbabwe can be sold legally to only one buyer: the central bank-owned Fidelity Printers and Refiners (FPR). FPR has been the sole, legal purchaser of Zimbabwean gold since the country gained independence in 1980. In May 2021, a report said FPR paid US$44,000 for a kilogramme of gold, whereas private buyers pay up to US$60,000 per kilogramme.
Reasons for Smuggling Gold Out of Zimbabwe
ICG said gold was being smuggled out of Zimbabwe because of the centralized gold-buying scheme which it said underpays producers. The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe forces miners to sell their gold to Fidelity Printers and Refiners and pays 70% in US dollars. The balance comes in local currency, which is not only worthless outside the country but is paid at an official rate that’s well below black-market levels. The Centre for Natural Resource Governance (CNRG) agreed with the ICG noting that the prices offered by Fidelity Printers and Refiners are poor and were the single biggest factor leading to smuggling of gold from Zimbabwe.
Cases of Gold Smuggling
Henrietta Rushwaya who is not only a bigwig, well-connected Zanu PF member, but also President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s niece, was arrested at Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport in Harare on 26 October 2020 attempting to smuggle 6,09kg of gold worth US$330 000 to Dubai.
Mnangagwa’s wife Auxillia and son Collins were initially implicated in the gold smuggling scandal by some of those who were arrested with Rushwaya. A presidential CIO aide was also arrested, and was swiftly dismissed.
On 13 January 2021, Rushwaya was granted bail by Harare Magistrate Ngoni Nduna and ordered to pay $100 000.
She was ordered to stay at her given address and report to the police three times a week until January 31.
Rushwaya was also ordered not to go 20 kilometres near any Zimbabwean border.
People who were arrested in the Rushwaya gold smuggling case are:
- Ali Mohammad of the car dealership Ali Japan 786, whom Rushwaya allegedly fingered as the source of the four gold bars found in her luggage.
- Two security services officers, Stephen Chenjerai Tserayi, and Rafius Mufandauya, who may have been involved in the attempt to get Rushwaya through the security checks with her gold.
- Gift Karanda who national police spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi last night said, when confirming the four arrests, had allegedly lied that he was a member of the Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) after he went to the airport to assist Rushwaya.
- Superintendent Shoko and,
- Det. Chief Inspector Chimhungu.
On 8 May 2021, Tashinga Nyasha Masinire was arrested in South Africa while smuggling gold worth R11 million.
Masinire appeared in a Kempton Park Regional Court, in Gauteng province on 10 May 2021 and was granted R100 000 bail. He was facing charges of contravening the Customs Act 91 of 1964 and Precious Metals Act 37 of 2005. Masanire was remanded to July 1 2021 for trial. He was ordered not to leave South Africa and to report to the nearest SAPS police stations three times per week.
There were reports that Masinire was linked to Rushwaya and was her aide and driver. Rushwaya confirmed Masinire had worked for her but had resigned in August 2020. However, sources who spoke to The News Hawks maintained that Masinire remains linked to Rushwaya and in her circles.
Rushwaya released an audio distancing herself from Masinire. Listen to the audio below:
Rushwaya and the Zimbabwe Miners Federation also released a copy of Tashinga Nyasha Masinire's resignation letter.
Two people with links to the gold industry told ZimLive that the gold was likely owned by Ian Haruperi. The publication's attempts to reach Haruperi for comment were unsuccessful, but an associate of his, when asked if the gold belonged to Haruperi, replied tersely: “I don’t think so.”
Kwekwe Gold Smuggler
In September 2015, Tudhope James Roy, a resident of Chicago Plots, was arrested for attempting to smuggle 28,5 kilogrammes of gold valued at about US$1 million into Botswana. At the time, The Chronicle reported that this was the single biggest interception of a smuggled mineral at a border post in Zimbabwe. Police intercepted Tudhope James Roy in possession of the gold while he was driving a Toyota Hilux single cab vehicle on his way to Botswana.
Tudhope James Roy was granted US$2 000 bail when he appeared before Magistrate Livard Philemon. He was remanded out of custody to October 1, 2015.  Tudhope James Roy defaulted court on December 2, 2015 which resulted in police launching a manhunt for him. Roy had appeared at Plumtree magistrate court on November 18, 2015, and was remanded to December 2, 2015.
In May 2017, Fisher Matura was acquitted for allegedly trying to smuggle 11,4 kilogrammes of gold through the Plumtree Border Post. The gold was valued at US$422 775. Bulawayo High Court judge Justice Nokuthula Moyo cleared Matura on the grounds that the prosecution failed to prove a solid case against him.
Matura did not dispute that he was found with the precious metal. He denied any knowledge of the presence of the gold in the vehicle. He said he only became aware of its presence after the police officers who arrested him discovered it.
His defence was that he had borrowed the vehicle in question from Nevison Zvizhinji, who is the owner. Matura further argued that he was going to Botswana to buy vehicle spare parts for his business.
In her ruling, Justice Moyo noted that police investigations established that the vehicle belonged to Zvizhinji. The gold also belonged to Zvizhinji who admitted to police that he created secret compartments to conceal his gold after losing gold to robbers.
In March 2014, Richard Anthony Devlin, a holder of a British passport and Mark Patrick Greenhalgh, both from Harare, were arrested for attempting to smuggle 5kg of gold worth US$212,085 to South Africa through the Beitbridge Border Post. The duo pleaded not guilty when their trial opened before Beitbridge resident magistrate Gloria Takundwa and was remanded to April 3, 2015, on $500 bail each.
In August 2013, Humbulani Pascal Nemanashe was arrested while trying to smuggle more than 1,6 kg of gold worth US$67 000 out of Zimbabwe through Beitbridge Border Post. He was convicted on his own plea of guilty to smuggling and illegal possession of gold by Beitbridge provincial resident magistrate Ms Gloria Takundwa. He was remanded in custody to 29 August 2013 for sentencing.
On 27 August 2013, Nemanashe arrived at Beitbridge Border post and on completing customs and immigration formalities, he did not make an effort to declare the goods to the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra). He then proceeded to the exit gate.
Acting on a tip-off, police detectives who had been monitoring his movements intercepted him at the gate. They searched him leading to the discovery of the contraband wrapped in stockings and tied to his right leg using a knee guard. He was asked to produce a permit authorising him to export gold but he failed leading to his arrest. The gold was subsequently seized and taken to the Zimra warehouse. 
- SIPHO MABUZA, R11 million Zimbabwean gold smuggler granted bail by South African court, ZimLive, Published: May 10, 2021, Retrieved: May 10, 2021
- Felix Njini and Godfrey Marawanyika, Zimbabwe Gold Smugglers Shipping Over $1.5 Billion a Year, Bloomberg, Published: November 24, 2020, Retrieved: May 10, 2021
- Chris Muronzi, Zimbabwe is hemorrhaging gold. Can a key reform curb smuggling?, Al Jazeera, Published: December 18, 2020, Retrieved: May 10, 2021
- JUST IN: Rushwaya granted bail, ‘’The Herald’’, Published: January 13, 2021, Retrieved: May 10, 2021
- THE $1M GOLD MAN… First picture of record smuggler -Kwekwe man granted $2k bail, ‘’The Chronicle’’, Published: September 19, 2015, Retrieved: May 10, 2021
- $1 million gold smuggler bolts, ‘’The Chronicle’’, Published: January 6, 2016, Retrieved: May 10, 2021
- Suspected gold smuggler acquitted, ‘’The Herald’’, Published: May 15, 2017, Retrieved: May 10, 2021
- Dealer arrested trying to smuggle 1.6kg gold, ‘’The Chronicle’’, Published: August 29, 2013, Retrieved: May 10, 2021