Gold Smuggling a Threat to Youth Empowerment

Penhalonga Youth Development Trust (PYDT) is deeply concerned over a report that a Zimbabwean man was caught at O R International Airport in South Africa en route to Dubai with smuggled gold worth R11 million (US$730,000). PYDT is a youth based organisation working in Penhalonga to promote the rights of the youths in mining development. The smuggling incident has a direct bearing on our community where there is rampant stripping of gold by companies controlled by political elites. The plunder of gold in Penhalonga is at an alarming level. Selfish agendas of a few are destroying the lives of many. Unregistered gold buyers have flooded Penhalonga. They work hand in glove with illicit miners operating in Penhalonga to flourish the black market. Due to high levels of unemployment in Zimbabwe desperate youth are being subcontracted by middlemen investors to open dangerous pits and extract gold without any regards to human safety. A number of them are sustaining permanent injuries. Some are losing their lives from mining collapse, others are dying from malaria because they sleep in temporary shacks and open fields. Our environment in Penhalonga is degraded and polluted with impunity. The community of Penhalonga is violated and impoverished. Recently the local authority increased levies by 600%. The increase is beyond the reach of the majority of residents who are not employed. The local authority is forced to direct high increases on residents because it has limited sources of revenues.

Mining activities in Penhalonga are political, heavy-handed and un accountable to local taxes and community development. The PYDT calls upon the government to immediately cancel mining contracts for middleman investors in gold mining. These investors are the major players behind gold smuggling and the flourishing black market in Zimbabwe. They are abusing their political connectedness to engage youth in unregulated and high risk mining activities in our communities. PYDT also calls upon President Mnangagwa to ensure that the Ministry of Mines is allowed to mainstream youth in gold mining in a transparent and accountable manner. Transparency and accountability will end child labor in gold mining whilst curbing smuggling and crime. Accountability will result in best environmental practices, improved revenues to local councils and community development.

Source: Penhalonga Youth Development Trust (PYDT)

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