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Chefs caught in gold licence blitz

Blessing Zulu

ZANU PF chefs are among directors of companies whose gold-buying licences were cancelled by government last week after they failed to deliver stipulated amounts to the Reserve Bank, the Zimbabw

e Independent has established.

Documents in the possession of this paper indicate that Zanu PF bigwigs were among those affected when government cancelled 14 gold concessions awarded to nine companies.

Government abruptly cancelled the 14 gold concessions last week, alleging the companies were involved in illegal trade of the precious mineral. Police have been fighting running battles with illegal gold panners said to be undermining infrastructure in the Midlands town of Kwekwe.

Those who lost licences include Midlands governor Cephas Msipa, a director of Rynawald Trading with a concession in Zvishavane, McDonald Chapfika, a commodity broker with close links to the army and Zanu PF, and the Gold Mining and Minerals Development Trust formed by the Reserve Bank and headed by businessman Nhlanhla Masuku.

Senior Mines and Minerals Development officials this week said there were many politicians involved in the “game”, hence difficulties in controlling illegal trading in gold.

Msipa yesterday refused to comment on the matter, referring all questions to his son, Christopher.

“My son is directly running that company and you can talk to him,” he said.

Efforts to get comment from Christopher Msipa were unsuccessful.

Msipa’s co-directors are listed as Christopher Zwelithini Msipa, James Dzimbiri, Archford Dzimbiri, and principal officer Patience Saungweme.

Macdonald Chapfika, younger brother of Zanu PF MP for Mutoko North, David Chapfika, was also caught in the licence blitz. Chapfika is the director of Needgate Investments.

Chapfika confirmed to the Independent that he was the director of Needgate Investments and said they were “shocked” by government’s actions.

“Yes I am the director of Needgate and Msipa is the director of Rynawald Trading,” he said.

“We are compiling a report for government and we cannot pre-empt its contents. But we are shocked by what the government did,” Chapfika said.

Chapfika’s co-directors at Needgate are Ottilia Masunda, Netsai Mugadza and Paul Simbarashe Chimbodza.

Nhlanhla Masuku is the chairman of Gold Mining and Minerals Development Trust which has five concessions in Mazowe, Shamva, Mudzi, Mutare and Filabusi.

Masuku told the Independent that some companies had gone to court, but he would not take that route.

“The whole thing does not make sense to us,” he said.

“We will respond through the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe and the Ministry of Finance who set us up,” he said.

Masuku denied that the minister had given them any money.

“I am not aware of the $500 million that the Minister of Mines purports to have given us,” Masuku said.

The Independent has it on good authority that the trust had delivered a paltry six kg of gold to the Reserve Bank in eight months

The other companies hit are Minerals Marketing Corporation of Zimbabwe, Oleaster Investments Pvt Ltd, trading as Golden Syndicate, SAD Pvt Ltd, and Shipford Investments trading as Golden Kopje.

The firms were licenced in March this year and the government splashed out $500 million to assist them.

They were required to surrender 150 kg of gold a month to the Reserve Bank’s Fidelity Printers and Refineries but are believed to have delivered only 39,2 kg in the seven months from April. On a monthly remittance of 150 kg they should have delivered 1 050 kg by the time the licences were cancelled.

Mines minister Edward Chindori-Chininga described the output as “very worrying”.

In an interview yesterday Chindori-Chininga said the cancellation of the concessions was final.

“That is a decision that has been made by government and the trust is going to be restructured,” he said.

He said two days after the cancellations the concessionaires delivered 90kg of gold.

“It just shows that some of them were now trading on the parallel market instead of delivering the gold to us,” he said.

President of the Zimbabwe Miners Federation Nixon Misi told a local daily that the banned concessionaires were fuelling the parallel market. Misi said they bought gold at $28 000 and sold it for $65 000.

The country is said to be losing 70% of its gold to smugglers. Sources said most of the affected companies were contemplating going to court to get their licences back.

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