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The Arrest of Zimbabwean Mining Boss for Gold Smuggling is Part of a Larger Syndicate

Henrietta Rushwaya, 53, the head of an artisanal miners’ association was arrested on Monday on her way to Dubai. Police say airport scanners detected gold bars in her hand luggage, and they later recovered six kilogrammes of gold. When Ms Rushwaya failed to produce the paperwork authorising the export, she was arrested. She told police that she had received the gold from a licensed dealer in the capital, Harare. The prosecution indicated it would carry out more arrests in connection with the case. Zimbabwe has a thriving underworld of gold-smuggling cartels involving powerful politicians and “untouchables”. Steven Tserayi, one of the president’s long-term aides, was detained with her, according to local reports, and has been sacked by the president, but not arrested. The scandal has highlighted Zimbabwe’s murky gold sector which, analysts claim, has drawn “untouchable” members of its political elite into smuggling cartels, costing the bankrupt state millions of pounds. The home affairs ministry reported in the state media recently that the country loses about $100m every month to gold smuggling. Authorities have said most of that gold ends up in Dubai. Gold is one of the country’s top export earners, generating about $1bn annually. The state is opposing Ms Rushwaya’s bail application. The court will rule on Friday.