Zanu PF politician and businessman Pedzisai Scott Sakupwanya has been implicated in the smuggling of gold in Zimbabwe by Uebert Angel, the country’s ambassador-at-large. Angel made the allegations in the fourth and final part of Al Jazeera’s Gold Mafia investigative documentary. In the documentary, Angel claims that Sakupwanya is a bigger gold dealer than Ewan MacMillan and that he is one of the main culprits in the smuggling of gold out of the country.
Undercover journalists posing as criminals were shown images of Sakupwanya flaunting his US$5 million and gold bars on June 29, 2020, according to Angel. The Zimbabwean businessman is believed to be one of the country’s primary gold buyers and a front for some corrupt political elites. He is also Zanu PF’s aspiring parliamentary candidate for Mabvuku.
Sakupwanya’s Better Brands Jewellery (BBJ) and other gold dealers operating in Mazowe and Penhalonga were accused of buying gold and delivering less than 50% to Fidelity Printers and Refiners while smuggling the rest to other countries, according to a report last year by the privately owned Centre for Natural Resource Governance (CNRG). The CNRG estimates that these illicit financial flows cost the country US$157 million per month and approximately US$1.9 billion per year.
The allegations against Sakupwanya come as Zimbabwe’s gold sector has been under scrutiny from the government, which has accused small-scale miners of not following the rules and regulations put in place to curb smuggling. In February, Zimbabwe’s central bank announced a new forex allocation framework that aimed to increase transparency and accountability in the gold sector. The government hopes that the new framework will help to curb illicit financial flows and ensure that gold is sold to Fidelity Printers and Refiners.