Zimbabwe’s first family is running a gold milling plant inside its Precabe Farm in Sherwood just outside the Midlands city of Kwekwe, Grazers News has established.
However, government insists that the Mnangagwa family is not milling any gold,
A recent visit to the plot owned by President Emmerson Mnangagwa and his family revealed that the milling plant has lately been processing gold ore brought in by small-scale miners from the Sherwood vicinity.
President Mnangagwa’s wife, Auxillia, and her son, Collins were last week linked to the alleged smuggling of 6kg of pure gold by Henrietta Rushwaya, the suspended president of the Zimbabwe Miners Federation (ZMF).
Rushwaya, considered close to the first family, has since been arrested and is being prosecuted for the alleged smuggling of the gold which she was found in possession of at the Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport in Harare.
Court papers stated last week that Gift Karanda, a ZMF employee who rushed to the airport when Rushwaya was arrested, claimed to the arresting officers that the gold belonged to the first lady and Collins.
Last Sunday, the first lady dismissed the allegation in a statement and challenged the police to absolve her, and the law enforcement agency quickly complied.
During Rushwaya’s ongoing trial on Tuesday, a senior police detective, Michael Chibaya told the court that they would investigate Fidelity Printers to establish if the 99.99 percent gold that the accused was found in possession of was sourced from the government miller.
The Precabe plant is a three-stamp gold ore mill that sits on an area of about 10 square meters and costs some US$22,000 on average when new.
The Precabe mill is normally operated by two employees—a feeder and a monitor—who are drawn from the president’s farm labour force while security is provided by the intelligence servicemen who man the plot, Grazers News established,
The mill is located at the foot of the hill on which the Mnangagwa farm house perches.
From the nearby tarred road in Sherwood that branches off the Harare-Bulawayo highway, the mill is to the left when driving into the farm, just opposite where the Mnangagwas produce mainly maize and soya beans.
Sources who were interviewed said the mill received as much as 25 tonnes of gold ore per day.
Generally, a mill owner gets his or her gold from the residue in the mill tanks after further refinement of the metal.
The miners who bring their ore in harvest the amalgam which is on average a quarter of what the miller harvests after using advanced chemicals that make the remaining gold purer.
It was not immediately clear where the Mnangagwas sold their gold.
“Most of the small scale miners from the surrounding area bring their ore here for milling. Some do it to show loyalty to the President by promoting his business while others feel it’s a safer place due to the security around,” said a source at the farm.
Precabe Farm is located in the gold-rich Sherwood Block characterised by sporadic gold rushes and illegal mining too.
In 2012, thousands of illegal panners swamped the area after reports of pure gold nuggets having been discovered close to the surface.
President Mnangagwa’s protégé and State Security minister, Owen Ncube also owns a gold milling plant at his farm less than 20 kilometres outside Kwekwe, the president’s home town for illegal gold mining that stretches right into the city centre.
President Mnangagwa’s name has over the years been dropped into claims of unofficial gold mining in Kwekwe, but has denied any involvement.
In 2003, an unlicensed gold dealer, Mark Matthew Burden made cheque payments into the president’s bank account, according to court records, when he was still Speaker of Parliament.
Burden also milled small-scale miners’ gold ore and was believed to be externalising the precious mineral.
Information ministry permanent secretary Nick Mangwana, claimed to Grazers News—the Information for Development Trust news blog—that there was no gold milling plant at Precabe Farm.
“There is no gold milling plant at Precabe Farm. The president doesn’t own a milling plant,” said Mangwana.