Civil society organisations have criticised President Emmerson Mnangagwa for officiating at a State House ceremony where he presented the Best Gold Buyer award for 2021 to a controversial gold dealer, Pedzisai Scott Sakupwanya.
They accused the president of endorsing impunity in the gold mining sector.
Commonly known as Scott, Sakupwanya received the award last Tuesday for delivering 7.8 tonnes of gold to Fidelity Printers through his company, Better Brands Jewellery (BBJ).
The delivery, which was enabled by buying from artisanal miners, was a steep jump from the 800kg that BBJ achieved in 2020.
President Mnangagwa was the guest of honour and his deputy, Constantino Guvheya Chiwenga, as well as Mines minister, Winston Chitando attended the ceremony together with numerous captains of industry.
Sakupwanya won as a ruling ZANU PF council candidate in ward 21 in Mabvuku, Harare, where he grew up, during the March 26 by-elections.
In an interview with Grazers News, the Centre for Research and Development (CRD) director, James Mupfumi, said Sakupwanya’s history in gold mining must have been taken into account. He said:
The role of government is to balance business and human rights. The most saddening reality is that the government is allowing scorched earth tactics in mineral extraction and is disregarding environmental rights and community development.
Sakupwanya’s Better Brands Mining Company is embroiled in a wrangle to control Redwing Mine in Penhalonga, Manicaland province. The company is also accused of widespread human and environmental rights violations.
Better Brands mining operations were stopped last year after creditors voted against their mining operations.
There is a long-held suspicion that Sakupwanya is a Mnangagwa family proxy as he is often seen in the company of the president’s sons.
However, George Charamba, the presidential spokesperson dismissed the claim that Sakupwanya was a runner for the first family in an earlier interview for a story commissioned by Information for Development Trust (IDT).
Farai Maguwu, the Centre for Natural Resource Governance (CNRG) director, described the Sakupwanya award as “shameful”.
More: Grazers News