ZANU PF benefactor and prominent gold dealer Pedzisai Scott Sakupwanya’s gold operations at Redwing Mine in Penhalonga, Manicaland province, have been closed by the Environmental Management Agency (Ema) following reports of numerous fatal accidents involving artisanal miners.
Sakupwanya through his company Better Brands Mining has been defying Ema’s directive to stop operations until civic groups threatened to picket at the mine.
In a joint statement yesterday, the Centre for Research and Development (CRD), Ziva Community Empowerment Trust, and Penhalonga Youth Development Ratepayers Trust claimed that 100 artisanal have died at Sakupwanya’s mine since 2020.
Sakupwanya is a key Zanu PF member and is expected to finance the ruling party’s 2023 election campaign.
He has also been previously pictured with President Emmerson Mnangagwa at State House.
Sakupwanya has become the biggest gold dealer in the country amid reports that he was using his close links with the First Family.
He is also the ruling party’s councillor for Mabvuku-Tafara in Harare.
NewsDay is in possession of a letter written by Better Brands dated January 20, 2023, confirming the company’s decision to halt operations in compliance with Ema’s directives.
“Better Brands hereby advises its valued stakeholders that all surface mining operations shall be suspended with immediate effect due to the concerns about the increased number of fatalities, and environmental degradation.
“Better Brands Mining shall take this opportunity to restructure and rehabilitate the mining field in preparation for the resumption of surface and underground mining,” the letter read.
But CRD director James Mupfumi said the temporary stoppage was meant to hoodwink the world into believing that Sakupwanya respects the rule of law.
“It is a temporary ban meant to fool the country from demanding accountability. It has happened twice with lies on promises to return to safe mining practices. We are approaching the government and Parliament to summon Better Brands.
“If the government fails to heed our call, we are approaching the United Nations (UN) human rights to express our concern on government’s failure to protect citizens from militia mining that is taking place at Redwing Mine. Zimbabwe is a signatory to the UN on the sanctity of human life and government protection,” Mupfumi said.