By- President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s Gold dealer Pedzisai “Scott” Sakupwanya has allegedly used a sum of US$1 million to bring retired American former world heavyweight boxing champion Floyd Mayweather Jnr to Zimbabwe.
Mayweather arrived in Zimbabwe on July 13, 2023, and was hosted in Harare’s Mabvuku high-density suburb, where Sakupwanya used the opportunity as a crowning moment in his election campaign to secure the area’s parliamentary seat.
According to reports, Mayweather’s booking fee for any appearance ranges from US$500,000 to US$749,000 before other expenses.
Earlier this year, Sakupwanya was named one of the country’s biggest gold barons by President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s ambassador-at-Large Uebert Angel in an Al Jazeera four-episode documentary Gold Mafia, which alleged massive gold smuggling and money laundering in Zimbabwe.
Upon his arrival in Zimbabwe, Mayweather was taken to Mabvuku and later hosted at a five-star hotel in the capital at a dinner where only local business people were invited. Speaking on the sidelines of Mayweather’s Mabvuku visit, Sakupwanya said he had fulfilled his promise to bring the boxer. He said:
I had promised them the boxer and it had been two years, but today, he is here.
However, the Centre for Research and Development (CRD) stated that Sakupwanya should be ploughing back to the Penhalonga community where his company’s mining operations caused untold suffering to communities. The government closed the mine earlier this year following reports of deaths, but Betterbrands has since resumed operations. CRD head James Mupfumi accused Betterbrands of neglecting communities while living lavishly. He said:
It is disheartening to see Betterbrands, a gold mining company based in Penhalonga, living a lavish lifestyle without showing any concern for the affected community.
The company focuses on their prosperity while the local communities suffer.
There has been a sustained campaign by CRD to hold to account for the deaths in Penhalonga, mineral leakages and environmental degradation, gold smuggling, and lack of transparency. The government has given all these a blind eye.
Farai Maguwu, the director of the Centre for Natural Resources and Governance, expressed regret that Betterbrands was not reinvesting in the community where it was generating wealth, echoing comments made by James Mupfumi. He said:
Extraction of gold by Sakupwanya in Penhalonga has brought with it a high death rate, accelerated environmental degradation and social conflict.
He is indebted in Penhalonga community whose lives are being seriously affected by his activities.
To then spend money he is extracting from Penhalonga on an American millionaire is a case of misplaced priorities and indifference to the suffering of the people affected by his activities.
Tendai Reuben Mbofana, a political and social analyst, expressed that Pedzisai Sakupwanya’s actions reflect the detachment of political elites from reality. Mbofana stated that Sakupwanya’s willingness to spend lavish amounts of money shows his detachment from poverty and suffering. Instead, the money used to bring Mayweather could have been used to build clinics, schools, and boreholes for the people of Mabvuku.
Political analyst Effie Ncube called the levels of extravagance regrettable and demonstrates that being in Parliament and the government has become an industry that connects to looting with impunity. Rejoice Ngwenya, another political analyst, said this exposes the misguided priorities of the ruling elites. Last year, Sakupwanya brought rapper Rick Ross to Zimbabwe for a show, reportedly paying US$200,000.