A business consortium believed to be led by popular preacher, Prophet Emmanuel Makandiwa has taken over a gold milling plant in Mutawatawa from a Chinese firm, Ming Chang.

Close sources say the plant was acquired for over $1,3 million with the deal financed by a local bank.

Prophet Makandiwa's spokesperson, Prime Kufa could not shed more light on the transaction saying while he was aware that such a transaction had taken place, Makandiwa was not directly part of it.

"Yes, I know of such a transaction but I am not sure the man of God is directly involved in it. If it was Church business, I would have all details but since this is private business, I do not have all the information," was all he could say.

The consortium, trading under the name Havillah Gold, is being managed by a group of directors who are all members of Makandiwa's United Family International Church.

Locals in the area confirmed this development saying Prophet Makandiwa was seen in Mutawatawa some months back. He is also believed to be building a primary school near the plant.

Reliable sources said the project has expanded tremendously after the takeover and the workforce is estimated at over 250 from an initial 23.

One source who declined to be named told this publication that the leadership in the area was grateful to Havillah for providing employment to the youths in the area.

"A large number of previously idle youths can be seen clad in worksuits as they make their way to or from work," he said, adding that the local headmen and councillors had each forwarded their own lists of eligible workers to the Havillah management.

"Equal numbers were taken from each ward and this has very much pleased our leadership in the area."

Prophet Makandiwa has of late been encouraging people to go into gold mining saying that this is where opportunities lie for many Zimbabweans. However, illegally dealing with gold attracts a minimum sentence of 5 years in prison. Even a single grain of gold worth US$1 will attract a penalty of 5 years in prison. No option of community service or paying fine is offered to illegal gold dealers in Zimbabwe.

Meanwhile, The hugely-popular preacher is known to have many business interests locally and internationally and the gold venture is believed to be his latest acquisition.

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