Scott Sakupwanya named as mastermind in US$1,9 billion gold leakages
Zanu-PF councillor Scott Sakupwanya is allegedly being sponsored by powerful political elites to buy gold on their behalf in key belts while promoting Illicit financial flows (IFFs) responsible for leakages of an estimated 3 tonnes of gold, valued at approximately US$157 million every month, around US$1,9 billion per year, Centre for Natural Resource Governance (CNRG) alleged in their latest report.
In a 35-page report released on Wednesday titled Zimbabwe’s Disappearing Gold: The Case of Mazowe and Penhalonga, CRNG claimed that a strong network has been created in different parts of the country, in particular Mazowe and Penhalonga controlling artisanal mining.
The research further established that gold dealer Sakupwanya who is part of Zanu PF’s fundraising committee is being sent by political leaders to buy gold on behalf of them while controlling a network of more than 1000 artisanal miners.
It is alleged that Sakupwanya the founder of Better Brands Jewellery (BBJ) among other rich gold dealers in Mazowe and Penhalonga are accused of abusing gold licenses, buying gold and delivering less than 50% to Fidelity Printers and Refiners, smuggling the rest to other countries.
“Illicit financial flows (IFFs) in the artisanal mining sector in Zimbabwe are responsible for leakages of an estimated 3 tonnes of gold, valued at approximately USD157 million every month.
“The sector has now spread its tentacles from alluvial gold deposits along rivers and dry riverbeds to large scale disused mines that are now patronized by politicians and ruling party officials,” read the report.
“Gold dealers abuse their gold buying licences to fight for control of artisanal miners and gold millers. Through the patronage system they also access cash for their illicit business from wealthy gold barons and Fidelity Printers and Refiners (FPR), the sole gold buying and 100% state owned gold trading, refining and exporting company.
“In Penhalonga, there are over 5000 gold pits that are controlled by one gold dealer while thousands of gold pits in Mazowe are also controlled by a few gold dealers registered with Fidelity Printers and Refiners. The gold dealers submit less than 30% of the gold to FPR, while the rest finds its way to South Africa, United Arab Emirates and other Asian countries such as China and India. Most smugglers prefer to exit the country by road to South Africa where the gold is flown from. Sources told CNRG that some of the gold is flown out of South Africa by private planes from Lanseria Airport.
“Gold barons sponsor a tightly monitored patronage system that is recruiting artisanal miners through political offices. Artisanal miners earn a pittance while in return the gold baron gets lucrative rewards from the illicit trade. Although the gold smuggling syndicates ultimately boils down to a few gold barons and kingpins, the pyramid is very wide at the base with so many runners who operate numerous ‘offices’ for gold collection at the mines and in towns closer to the mines.”
From the investigations, CNRG established that Sakupwanya is receiving millions from the RBZ to buy the gold which is allegedly smuggled outside the country.
“Scott Sakupwanya, according to one of his several runners in Penhalonga, is receiving millions of dollars from rich people and the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe to buy gold for them. He in turn gives the money to his army of runners throughout the country.
“CNRG spent time with one of Scott’s runners in Mutare who was buying gold from as early as 6am till midnight. The gold was coming from all directions and in various quantities.
“Some of the artisanal miners were coming from as far as Chimanimani and Nyanga, though majority were operating from within the vicinities of Mutare.
“In the case of Penhalonga, accessibility to the pits has turned political as powerful Zanu-PF politicians in Mutasa and Mutare districts are now partly responsible for granting access. These include the party youth executives, chairpersons and losing councilors of the party who were reported to be writing letters to Redwing instructing them on who should get the mining pits.
“‘No one gets a pit without proving their Zanu-PF membership’, claimed one source. Some officers from Penhalonga Police Station either own or sponsor mining pits at Redwing Mine.
“The involvement of various players in grabbing and allocating mining rights has created chaotic scenes as no one seems to be in charge of the operations anymore. It is now a feeding frenzy,” CNRG said.
It was also noted that the artisanal mining sector had been captured by politically-connected individuals who are likely to oil Zanu-PF’s 2023 elections campaign machinery.