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Tagwirei tightens hold on Zim gold

by Staff reporter
10 Feb 2021 at 05:48hrs | Views
AFTER buying more mines and banks, the mogul could become the country's top gold buyer. Business kingpin Kudakwashe Tagwirei, under United States sanctions since August, aims to expand his commanding stake in Zimbabwe's gold industry and could end up taking control of the country's sole gold refinery and marketer, Africa Confidential understands.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa and Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) governor John Mangudya are working on a plan to break up Fidelity Printers and Refiners, an arm of the central bank that is officially the ultimate buyer of all Zimbabwe's gold.

Fidelity has been criticised for delaying United States dollar payments to licensed gold exporters.

As the illegal gold trade, sponsored by politically-backed gangs, spirals out of control, the State-owned company has been losing out, depriving the government of hundreds of millions of dollars of revenue.

Gold smuggling is booming in Zimbabwe with consignments worth over US$1,5 billion last year shipped, often hand-carried by politically-connected people, to Dubai and India, according to International Crisis Group and other research organisations. But official gold exports through Fidelity fell by almost a quarter to US$800 million last year, according to RBZ figures.

US sanctions have had little effect on Tagwirei's commercial ambitions and his influence on the government, which has lost some of its leading members such as Foreign minister Sibusiso Moyo to the coronavirus.

The United States Treasury says Tagwirei known as "Queen Bee" because of the political and financial power he wields has used his relationship with Mnangagwa "to grow his business empire dramatically and rake in millions of US dollars".

Last year, an audio recording was leaked in which Tagwirei said he was behind the sacking of the country's Energy minister Fortune Chasi, having warned him not to "ask too many questions about contracts for fuel supplies" (AC Vol 61 No 17, Inside the State capture project).

Source - Africa Confidential