The five Russians – Volynkin Vladilir, Safonor Alexander, Vorob Vev, Valerity Kharitonov and Shokolov Ivor – were arrested last week at a new mining site in West Nicholson.
For illegally exploring for minerals in that province, the five Russian tourists were charged with abusing their tourist visas when they appeared before Gwanda Magistrate, Douglas Zvenyika.
According to the state, the five entered the country on tourist visas issued in Moscow through the Zimbabwean embassy but after entering the country started engaging in mining activities.
They five Russians who were represented by lawyer Elasto Mugwadi in their court appearance were charged with contravening the Immigration Act, Chapter 4:02 (engaging in activities not specified in the visa) and fined US$200 or 15 days in prison.
They face deportation. Matabeleland South is rich in gold deposits. Illegal gold panning is however rife in that province.
President Robert Mugabe often says the country has rich mineral deposits that he says are adequate to see southern African nation clear its external debt on its road to economic recovery.
But the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has said Zimbabwe’s mining wealth will not provide sufficient resources to settle the country’s external debt even if the government mortgaged its future fiscal revenues from the sector.
Zimbabwe’s external debt is US$4,6 billion which is 104% of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP), a level which is considered unsustainable.
Diamonds, gold and platinum are some of Zimbabwe’s minerals with a potential to earn the country significant revenue streams, but they are also weighed down by high extraction costs.