President Emmerson Mnangagwa, is reportedly embroiled in a deadly war, to control the country’s gold mines, with his deputy, Vice President Rtd General Constantino Chiwenga, pushing their personal and political relationship to the brink of collapse, Spotlight Zimbabwe, has been told.
The nasty gold war between the two presidium figures, which has also seen their various factional Zanu PF and government camps clashing over control of the nation’s fuel supply, is said to have roped in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and China. The former is believed to be in Mnangagwa’s corner, while the latter is backing Chiwenga, according to a former mines minister in government who spoke to this publication while abroad on a business meeting recently.
Last April, a bombshell investigative report by news agency Reuters, revealed that the UAE has been receiving billions of dollars worth of gold smuggled out of Africa and sent to markets in Europe, the United States and other countries. In 2016, customs data revealed that the UAE imported $15.1 billion worth of gold from Africa, more than any other country, up from $1.3 billion in 2006, the report said.
Dubai, a UAE emirate, is the gold trading centre of the UAE and contains more gold refineries, bullion investment companies, large and small-scale bullion dealers, gold coin and jewellery traders per square mile than anywhere else on earth.
On the other hand China is by far the world’s largest gold producer, accounting for 13 percent of global mine production.
Beijing has poured millions of dollars into the country’s gold mining industry, using funded grants and loans for small-scale and artisanal miners.
So vicious are the economic and political skirmishes, that the military on Chiwenga’s orders has threatened to thwart violence across the country’s gold belts by criminal mine gangs now popularly known as MaShurugwi, thought to be aligned to Mnangagwa and allegedly enjoying the closet support of the state security ministry, the former minister said.
The Zimbabwe Peace Project (ZPP) NGO, contends that 105 people had been killed in the mining town of Kadoma in the three months from August to October of 2019, while hundreds of others have been severely injured in machete attacks.
“Mnangagwa and Chiwenga’s real power tussle is over control of Zimbabwe’s gold,” said the ex-cabinet minister.
“Whoever controls the gold, will control and rule Zimbabwe. A classified report by the ministry of mines and mining development, which has not been allowed to see the light of day, initially meant for the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Mines and Mining Development reveals it all. They (Mnangagwa and Chiwenga) have allegedly been using business tycoon, Kudakwashe Tagwirei, as a front to buy gold mines across the country, using part of the looted US$3 billion command agriculture funds, but have had a falling out in terms of ownership of those mines.”
“Where does Tagwirei get that kind of money to buy four gold mines owned by the Government of Zimbabwe? Where does he derive that power and muscle? The media has reported that Tagwirei is eying to buy Jena Gold Mines, Golden Kopje, Elvington and Sabi, all of which are assets of the the Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation (ZMDC). They got it wrong, it is Mnangagwa and Chiwenga buying those mines. My sources tell me that they already own other gold mines in Mazowe, Shamva and even Renco gold mine in Masvingo, through a complex shareholding.”
Senior defence officials this week told Spotlight Zimbabwe, that Mnangagwa is peeved and now weakened by the involvement and inclusion of military generals in the gold deals by Chiwenga.
An assessment contained in a study titled: “Assessing Continuity and Change After Mugabe”, authored by Alexander H. Noyes and released this month by the US-based Rand Corporation, said the country’s military’s influence in politics, the economy and government is on the increase, with army generals heavily involved in mining and fuel sectors.
“There is a call in military circles for a probe of Mnangagwa’s relationship with the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, which is all shrouded in mystrey,” the defence officials said.
“According to the United Nations, the UAE is now the biggest importer of Zimbabwe’s gold, yet Mnangagwa has recently revealed that Zimbabwe has lost gold worth US$60 million through a syndicate of businessmen that clandestinely export the precious mineral to Dubai. Who is behind that syndicate? Furthermore, there is also interest to investigate economic deals between Zimbabwe and the UAE. Are they benefitting the country or powerful political individuals? Some of the deals under scrutiny, include government’s intentions of selling a stake in our national oil company, to the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company among others.”
There is also growing speculation of a possible connection, between the UAE gold import statistics from Zimbabwe and the private plane which Mnangagwa has been chartering, as some believe the gold is paying for his merry-go-round trips around the world.
Gold is one of Zimbabwe’s largest earners of foreign currency, raking in more than $1bn in exports annually.
Mines minister, Winston Chitando’s office yesterday refused to confirm the gold fight between Mnangagwa and Chiwenga, saying that “they knew nothing about” and were “not cleared to talk about the presidium’s involvement in mining activities”.
Chitando is largely seen as a Mnangagwa ally, and has been accompanying the president on several foreign trips to sign economic and trade deals for Zimbabwe.
— Spotlight Zimbabwe