Zimbabwe News and Internet Radio

Scott Sakupwanya faces financial strain, desperately seeking US$6m loan

President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s controversial ally Scott Sakupwanya’s company Better Brands Jewellery (BBJ) is facing financial constraints and capital inadequacy challenges forcing it to seek a loan facility from a local bank, Nehanda Radio can exclusively reveal.

Documents seen by Nehanda Radio show that BBJ approached NMB bank with a loan proposal wherein they offered to repay in a period of two years at 12 percent interest per annum that is paid monthly and the principal repaid at the end of the loan period.

To show evident desperation the company shareholders offered their houses as security for the advance loan.

“For the applied loan, the shareholders shall offer their houses listed in Appendix H as security for advanced loan.

“The pledged houses shall be mortgaged in favour of NMB bank and/or any designated nominee,” read part of the loan proposal.

The company is composed of two shareholders, namely Better Brands and Full Moon Investments, who hold 50 percent apiece.

Besides Scott, the board of directors who have oversight roles is composed of Fradreck Kunaka, Cuthbert Cornelius Chitima and Norest Kurauone Mapanga.

BBJ also took over mining operations at Redwing Mine which was shut down by the Environmental Management Agency (EMA) last week for violation of Safety, Health and Environment (SHE) regulations, leading to the deaths of several artisanal miners.

With their current financial difficulties, it might be a mammoth task for the company to inject funds in rehabilitating Redwing Mine.

BBJ boasts of eight gold buying centres dotted across the country but they are now incapacitated to continue buying.

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The chief executive Kunaka did not respond to questions sent to him nor did he pick up the phone at the time of writing.

Interestingly, the company has splashed money on bringing expensive international artists masked under Roar Music. They paid Rick Ross thousands of dollars.

This comes after Better Brands Mining company was forced to suspend mining activities by the Environmental Management Agency (EMA) at Redwing Mine in Penhalonga, Manicaland province following a series of deaths of workers due to unsafe mining practices.

Earlier this month, Nehanda Radio revealed that miners were dying “every week” at the gold-rich facility due to improper practices by Sakupwanya’s Better Brands company.

Banks are very sensitive to Environmental, Social Governance (ESG) and safety and health issues and the developments at Redwing might hamper BBR ‘prospects of having their loan application approved.

If Better Brands fails to get the loan, their capacity to resuscitate Redwing Mine will be very low and they will lose the gold-rich facility.

In the face of the crisis, the chief executive called for a strategic meeting for all subsidiaries. It will be held on February 2 to February 2-February 3 at Wild Geese Lodge.

Nehanda Radio gleaned an internal memo dated January 20 authored by Kunaka which partly read:

“This serves to advise you of the Strategy Workshop for all companies within the Betterbrands Group to be held from 2nd to 3rd February 2023 at Wild Geese Lodge in Pomona Harare. You are requested to attend this very important event in the Betterbrands calendar. Starting time is 0830 hours.

“In preparation for the Strategy Workshop, Heads of Companies, Departments and/or Sections are to make a ten minute presentation on the performance review of their area of responsibility clearly spelling out the challenges encountered and achievements made.”

In July last year, a 35-page report titled Zimbabwe’s Disappearing Gold: The Case of Mazowe and Penhalonga, by the Centre for Natural Resources Governance established that Zanu-PF councillor Sakupwanya was 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.

It further stated that a strong network had been created in different parts of the country, in particular Mazowe and Penhalonga controlling artisanal mining.

It was noted that Sakupwanya, who is part of Zanu-PF’s fundraising committee, was being sent by political leaders to buy gold on behalf of them while controlling a network of more than 1000 artisanal miners.