By Themba Khumalo

Accountability in government has been essentially shrunk to an annoying speculative idea.
If you expect any change of attitude from the clumsy apparatchiks, good luck.
None of these myopic lickspittles have a clue that accountability is a significant component in attaining victory. The governing party appears to be having serious problems with accountability.
None of these gluttonous scatterbrains has a grasp of a simple fact. When the government looks to blame someone for its own failures, it endangers and disempowers citizens.
I find it offending and morally repugnant when a bunch of so-called leaders do the best they can to escape the consequences of their shoddiness.
Nobody in the corridors of power is gifted with an understanding that when you embrace accountability you place yourself in a spot where you can rustle up the crucial adjustments to be effective.
Each passing day, I can’t help but wonder if any of these comrades realise that leaders are tasked with a duty to fillip accountability via their aptitude to accept responsibility rather than apportioning the blame to an array of sometimes concocted circumstances.
Surprise does not stare my way that we find ourselves struggling to breathe under the shiny and spiky boot of an inept, dishonest and sadistic state.
The governing party that falsely hails itself as a dependable leader of society has become a triple gold-plated predatory entity devoid of any social conscience and vision.
Not only do they lack vision, they also make a concerted effort to spin lies to create some kind of truth.
The current administration has buttered us into a corner with a narrative of nine wasted years and state capture when we complain about Eskom.
The reality is that the ANC government knew about this problem as far back as 1998 and they did nothing. They are still fumbling in the dark when it comes to solving the electricity crisis. They trip over proposal after proposal and no concrete solution has been forthcoming.
Let’s leave Eskom in the dark and dig into the issue of illegal mining, which is an ever-increasing threat to the security of communities and the country.
The hoodlums involved in illegal mining have made the lives of a number of communities unbearable.
Horrific tales have been reported by affected communities but the state could not be bothered.
The myrmidons, tasked with protecting citizens, sat with their fingers up a very dark and stinky hole. They were deaf to the endless lamentations of the victims of heinous crimes perpetrated by illegal miners.
On 28 July, depraved and slimy beasts crawled out of their holes and wreaked havoc.
They inflicted a horrible crime that continues to make women’s life a daily nightmare.
I would rather not recap the atrocities committed on that dreadful Thursday at West Village in Krugersdorp in pronounced detail, except to restate that eight women were robbed and gang raped multiple times while filming a music video.
As is always the case, the police, led by the indolent Police Minister Bheki Cele descended on the area when the tragic news broke.
Residents of the area have said repeatedly that the area is a notorious crime hotspot. They say they have become “prisoners in their own homes”. The shock expressed by the government makes me want to puke. For years, they have known about the security risk posed by illegal miners…zama Zamas.
In September 2009, then Mineral Resources Minister Susan Shabangu, on the debate on illegal mining at the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) said: “The theft of gold and illicit mining is nothing new in South Africa. While theft has been occurring since the inception of the gold mining industry, illicit mining in South Africa started gaining momentum from the late 1990s.
“Illegal mining first reared its ugly head in Welkom as far back as 1999 and the department and mining companies have been working together over the last decade to put an end to this problem – with little success.” Shabangu was reacting to the death of 91 illegal miners in Welkom.
She said: “This has again brought into sharp relief the scourge of illicit mining, focusing public attention on the issue like never before. “Illicit mining poses serious challenges for the industry – this issue is extremely complex and should not be underestimated.”
If it was acknowledged in 2009 that illegal mining is a multi-billion rand illegitimate industry, which comprises national and international syndicates, why has there been no demonstrable and firm action?
At the time, the illegal mining industry was estimated to be about R5.6 billion.
A report published in in November 2014 by Channing Mavrellis titled Good as Gold? South Africa’s Problem with Illegal Gold Mining Is Severe and Growing revealed: “Credible estimates of the value of the illegal gold mining industry vary widely, ranging from R7.5 billion to R30 billion annually. Not included in these figures is the tax fraud involved in these activities.
“The bottom line is clear, the level and severity of illegal gold mining in South Africa is escalating. Whether it is measured in revenue, security risks, or human lives, in the end, everyone loses.”

Illegal mining and organised crime
The sluggishness of the government is nauseating when you consider what Shabangu told the NCOP: “These gold-smuggling syndicates are highly organised, dangerous and well-resourced.
“When considering the question of how these syndicates manage to transport food and other consumables deep down into the mines, it is clear that illicit miners are being assisted by legal miners, both workers and managers.
“Explosives and equipment are also transported and stolen from underground stores of operating mines.”
Minerals Council South Africa also made a similar statement: “Illegal mining and organised crime are inter-related. Very often, illegal mining is spearheaded by globally connected criminal syndicates.
“Zama zamas are often heavily armed, have explosives and, when trespassing on operating mines, set ambushes and booby traps for employees, security personnel and rival groups of illegal miners.
“Following the severe drought in 2016, the excessive use of water by zama zamas to process the gold-bearing material became apparent, which directly impacts on local communities.”
We were also told the illegal mining trade is a well supervised five-tier syndicate system:
First tier: The underground workers, mostly illegal immigrants, do the physical mining. Many have worked in the mines previously. They use chemical substances to primitively refine the product.
Second tier: The buyers on the surface around the mines also organise the first tier illegal miners and support them with food, protection and equipment.
Third tier: The regional bulk buyers, who are usually entities with, in most cases, permits issued in terms of the Precious Metals Act of 2005 to trade in precious metals.
Fourth tier: Distributors, nationally and sometimes internationally, work through front companies or legitimate exporters.
Fifth tier: The top international receivers and distributors usually work through international refineries and intermediary companies.

The Dark World of the Zama Zamas
A 2019 April Policy Brief titled
Uncovered: The Dark World of the zama zamas, published by the ENACT project told a chilling tale when it revealed: “The violence and insecurity caused by criminality associated with illegal mining makes some mining areas in South Africa more chaotic and conflict ridden than mine sites elsewhere in Africa.”
It also touched on the issues of police corruption: “Zama zamas complain that police regularly shake them down for bribes in return for not arresting them, or confiscate their gold and sell it directly to the syndicates.
“The complicity of local police in illegal mining also complicates efforts to contain the activities of the miners. Zama zamas complain that police regularly shake them down for bribes in return for not arresting them, or confiscate their gold and sell it directly to the syndicates.
“One gun retrieved during an underground firefight was registered to the South African Police Service, suggesting police collusion with the most violent strata of the syndicates.”
The outrageous Machiavellian schemes of high-level corruption have led to the failure by the state to deal decisively with illegal mining by not going for the filthy-rich head honchos who sell our gold overseas.
Zama zamas are but a tiny part of the big puzzle. These guys, according to reports make between R4 000 and R8 000, while some scoundrels rake up millions.

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