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Zimbabwe to close down unmonitored airstrips to curb smuggling of minerals

Christian Fernsby |
The Zimbabwean government has said that it will close down all unmonitored airstrips and at the same time install a new radar control system to monitor aircraft flying in the country's airspace amid concerns some planes are being used to smuggle minerals out of the country.

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The state run Sunday Mail also reported Sunday that the government was working with the Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe (CAAZ) to overhaul the radar system and bring it up to date with international standards.

Zimbabwe is reportedly losing up to 100 million U.S. dollars every month in leakages through sophisticated syndicates.

The paper quoted Defence and War Veterans Affairs Minister Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri saying that President Emmerson Mnangagwa had directed that the country's radar system be modernized. "In this era, people use modern technology for all sorts of illegal activities and the president has said we should mechanize and upgrade our systems, hence the introduction of a new radar system.

"There are too many airstrips and we know that there are some small aircraft which fly very low and are difficult to identify. This is due to the old radar system that urgently needs replacement."

The new high-tech radar system, she said, would be installed in partnership with CAAZ.

"We are working with CAAZ to close the gaps used by these small aircraft to smuggle minerals, especially gold. So we are addressing the issue, and in due course you are going to see the changes. We are on top of the situation," she said.

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