There been new reports on the gold smuggling to Uganda from Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). However, it needs more reporting, as this illegal trading and looting of mineral resources from the Republic needs to be put a spotlight on. As this trade is feeding illegitimate government and militias whose using force against innocent civilians and citizens in general. This report that is reported in the report from the Group of Experts are expelling a deep, but also a volatile story of how they are transporting and getting the illegal gold into the market.
We can wonder if this gold enters the Gen. Salim Selah owned African Gold Refinery Limited in Entebbe, before flying away into the World Market through the brokers and traders there. We can question that, as the government on both sides of the border is accepting this. They are both earning on this and not registering it. Therefore, the location of extraction is kept secret, while the production and the paperwork is kept under the radar. That is why the consumer cannot know under what condition the gold came from and that is worrying. The smuggling, the lack of paperwork and forging of documents shows they are really pushing the boundaries to get into the global markets.
Also, this shows how blatant disregard for maladministration, they have done deliberately and not cared about the public.
“Smugglers used the road to Mahagi, where they travelled either by motorbike, taxi or even truck. At the border with Uganda, when they were eventually checked, they bribed customs officials on the Congolese side. All of the Group’s informants on this issue confirmed that, in Goli, on the Ugandan side of the border, they were not asked to present papers or explain the origin of gold that they carried. Mahagi is a long-established hub of the smuggling route” (P: 22)
“Two brokers told the Group that they mainly carried gold from mining sites in Kawa and Monbgwalu in Djugu territory. When they arrived in Goli, they would meet with a broker from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, who would accompany them to sell to Kampala-based dealers. One of the brokers told the Group that, until February 2018, he travelled to Kampala every two weeks with about 3 kilograms of gold (approximately $132,000) 20 per trip” (P: 22-23).
“The Group confirmed that, in Entebbe Airport, companies sell empty seats. As previously documented, empty seats are used by smugglers to transport gold concealed in hand luggage. Two individuals associated with the gold sector in Kampala, one Kampala-based gold broker from the Democratic Republic of the Congo and one migration officer stationed at the airport in Entebbe told the Group that, despite the official claim that minerals cannot leave the country without proper paperwork, gold smugglers continue to travel either without documentation or with forged documents. The migration officer and the broker told the Group that the owners of gold being trafficked do not travel themselves but use couriers who fly to Dubai to deliver the gold to buyers there. The two sources added that couriers can operate easily because they bribe customs and security officers at Entebbe airport” (…) “Two Ugandan nationals working for two airlines operating from Entebbe informed the Group that they are not requested to check gold in hand luggage. In the course of its current mandate, the Group held discussions with senior officials of eight airlines operating in and out of the Great Lakes region, who said that their primary role in checking passengers was to make sure no one was carrying anything that could jeopardize the security of the plane, a policy focusing almost entirely on weapons and explosives. The Group is of the view that gold transported on commercial aeroplanes should not be banned as it represents a key form of export for responsible artisanal and small-scale mining activity that observes the requisite due diligence guidelines. However, there is a need to address the loopholes related to the illegal transportation of gold carried in hand luggage on commercial aeroplanes” (P: 24, 2018).
Clearly, the illegal trade of gold should be looked into and be a worry for the international community, as the is funding militias and illegal activity within the DRC. This should not be overlooked, the clear indication of smuggling gold and also not registering the conflict minerals. Therefore, this is sophisticated and using all means to bribe lower level civil servants on both sides, to secure the trade of this can go-on. Both republic’s can do something about this, if they cared or had incentive to do so. However, they seem pretty fine and dandy with this activity. As the state and the close connected activity with the elites who are sponging the funds made from it.
That is why even President Museveni was there for the opening of the Gold Refinery in Entebbe. That shows that the Republic have no trouble with illegal smuggling of gold from the DRC. Peace.
United Nations Security Council – ‘ Final report of the Group of Experts on the Democratic Republic of the Congo’ (04.06.2018).