Mozambique’s Illicit Gemstone Trade: Downward Spiral of Corruption – by Henry Pope (Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project – November 10, 2021)

The opaque nature of Mozambique’s illicit artisanal and small-scale mining industry has siphoned millions from the country’s economy, trapped its workers in a perpetual state of poverty, and has become a significant source of government and police corruption, according to a Global Initiative Against Transnational Organized Crime (GITOC) report.

Buried under East Africa is a wealth of gemstone deposits, including rubies, sapphires, and garnets, to name a few. Rubies are the most sought after gemstone, with large deposits unearthed in northern Mozambique.

Corruption at the highest levels of this industry in Mozambique, however, is said to have resulted in a downward spiral that empowers those at the top whilst making it near impossible to enact the necessary reforms needed to lift those at the bottom out of poverty.

After the 16-year-long Mozambican Civil War ended in 1992, the illicit artisanal and small-scale mining reportedly became one of the few central sources of income for local communities.

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