The Mines parliamentary portfolio committee has pledged to investigate gold leakages and environmental degradation allegedly caused by President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s reported ally, Scott Sakupwanya, in Manicaland province’s Penhalonga district.
Sakupwanya recently won the Mabvuku ward 21 councillorship at the 26 March by-elections as a ruling Zanu PF candidate and has been repeatedly linked to the Mnangagwa family.
Edmund Mkaratigwa, the committee chairperson, made the pledge last Wednesday (20 April 2022) during a site visit to the Redwing Mining Company in Penhalonga.
Sakupwanya’s Better Brands Mining Company (BMC) is expropriating gold at Redwing.
The BMC outfit, which has been accused of grabbing surface gold mining claims from Probadek, a rival company, has allegedly dug up thousands of pits in search of gold ore without reclamation.
Better Brands has set up numerous gold milling points along nearby rivers, using banned mercury and cyanide to process the gold.
Employees at Redwing—which is now under a corporate rescue plan that has allowed suitors like Better Brands to operate in the area—local communities and pressure groups like the Centre for Research and Development (CRD) and the Centre for Natural Resource Governance (CNRG) have complained that the use of cyanide is polluting the water, ground and air, thereby posing a risk to people, livestock and wildlife.
While the Environmental Management Agency (EMA) has visited the area several times, it has failed to bring Better Brands to book.
Sakupwanya’s company is accused of namedropping President Mnangagwa as its protector, even though presidential spokesperson, George Charamba, has dismissed the speculation.
Sakupwanya, according to the locals, hired militias to persecute his rivals in Penhalonga, resulting in scores of people sustaining injuries during torture that was recorded on camera and circulated through social media.
Mnangagwa recently officiated at an awards ceremony where Better Brands Jewelleries (BBJ) received the Best Gold Producer for 2021 accolade.
Speaking at a meeting with stakeholders after touring the Redwing mine, MP Mkaratigwa flagged the company’s operations.
“Why has Better Brands failed to invest in underground mining in the first place?” he asked.
“Their gold panning activities are causing problems in the area. Parliament will address the root cause of the problem at Redwing after gathering enough information,” added the Mines committee chair.