Dealer Scott: ‘How I control half of Zim’s gold sales’

Gold dealer Scott Sakupwanya says he delivered almost half of the gold sold to the official buyer, Fidelity, in 2023.

Sakupwanya says his company Better Brands delivered 13 tonnes of gold to Fidelity. That would be just short of half of the total of 30.1 tonnes sold to Fidelity in 2023. It would also be more than the 11.4 tonnes sold by large-scale miners, and 70% of the gold delivered by small-scale producers, who account for the bulk of gold sales.

“Our projections for the 2024 year are to deliver 20 tonnes of gold,” Sakupwanya told Mining Zimbabwe. In 2022, he said, Better Brands delivered 18 tonnes. That was 50% of all the gold delivered that year, when small-scale producers increased sales attracted by incentives and quick payments from Fidelity.

Sakupwanya has controversially occupied Metallon’s Redwing Mine in Penhalonga since 2020, via an arrangement with administrators who took control of the mine when it was placed under corporate rescue. In 2023, he was elected to Parliament as a ZANU PF candidate after a controversial by-election, deepening the political clout that his gold wealth has won him. An Al Jazeera documentary in 2023 reported on his influence in the gold trading sector.

He claims that his dominance of the gold industry is due to the “relationship” he has built with gold producers and dealers. He secures the most gold by funding miners’ inputs in exchange for the metal.  

Says Sakupwanya: “Some examples of the innovative solutions offered by Better Brands include; providing mining inputs such as fuel and chemicals (to artisanal and small-scale miners, or ASMs), offering mining equipment to miners under a loan scheme and facilitating the purchase of inputs in local currency to prevent ASMs from engaging in informal markets.”

According to Sakupwanya, “gold buying is a relational business. Strong relationships with the ASMs are crucial for one to be able to mobilise as much gold”.

Better Brands holds a gold dealing licence, which allows it to buy gold, smelt it and export it. The fee for this licence was set at US$200,000 in March 2023. Because of the high fee, there is a limited number of such licences. With a gold dealing licence, a person can issue permits to gold buyers to buy gold on their behalf. The company’s other assets include Pitana, a gold claim near Chegutu.