Gold Mafia: Zimbabwe Underworld of Crime and Corruption


Zimbabwe is no stranger to crime and corruption, and a powerful criminal network known just as ‘The Gold Mafia’ may be one of the shadiest operations of all. A four-part documentary created by Al-Jazeera has revealed the absolute depths of this group, uncovering a dangerous underworld of illegal activity, bribery and money laundering.

At the centre of this investigation are the ‘Gold Mafia’ and their alleged ties to Zimbabwe’s president, Emmerson Mnangagwa. The Gold Mafia is a lucrative criminal network that uses gold smuggling, bribery and money laundering in their efforts to generate wealth and gain political power in the African nation.

The Gold Mafia’s operations are wide-ranging and insidious, from employing a network of agents to collect gold from miners up to high-level administrators that are willing to take bribes for laundering money.

Using undercover journalists, Al-Jazeera uncovered damning evidence indicating the involvement of President Mnangagwa’s special emissary to 85 countries, Ubert Angel. Records captured Angel offering to facilitate dirty deals involving money laundering.

In the documentary, gold miners discussed policies the Gold Mafia have enacted in order to procure gold near the Zimbabwe-Mozambique border. According to reports, the Gold Mafia has cornerstones primary control of the border towns in order to repress gold production, forcing miners to surrender their gold and money to the criminal organisation in order to legally sell in nearby towns.

The recent documentary has forced the Government of Zimbabwe to take notice and has officially set up an investigation into the operations of the Gold Mafia. It remains to be seen whether the state’s investigations will produce results or if the Gold Mafia will be allowed to keep operating business as usual.

It is up to the government of Zimbabwe to adequately handle the investigations and to punish the members of the Gold Mafia for their criminal activity. If the criminals are brought to justice, it could signify a shift in the way the ‘Zimbabwe underworld’ is perceived and offer hope to the people of the country.

The world was recently riveted by the shocking revelations of a Zimbabwean ‘Gold Mafia’ operating in the country’s underworld of crime and corruption. The claims first came to light after a local organisation called “Dossier” released a documentary film titled “Goldfinger” which uncovered a wide range of criminal activities associated with illegal gold mining and other operations.

The documentary showcased the operations of a loose network of unscrupulous individuals and groups who had infiltrated Zimbabwe’s mining industry and government officials by engaging in various corrupt activities such as bribery and money laundering. Moreover, the network had also taken full advantage of the country’s limited legal and enforcement systems to exploit the nation’s rich gold reserves.

Upon learning of the allegations, Information Minister Monica Mutsvangwa stated that the Zimbabwean government had launched an investigation into the matter.

While the criminal operations of the ‘Gold Mafia’ may have only been exposed recently, investigations reported in the past had revealed significant levels of illegal gold mining within the country’s borders. In particular, previous research had indicated that much of the gold produced in Zimbabwe had been smuggled out and sold in destinations such as Dubai.

The emergence of the so-called ‘Gold Mafia’ should be a call to action for the Zimbabwean government to prioritise tackling corruption and the ‘shadowy dealings’ that plague the country’s gold industry. Without concerted efforts by the authorities to establish rigorous legal and enforcement measures necessary to prosecute these criminal networks and their associates, the Zimbabwean people will continue to suffer the damaging effects of gold smuggling, illegal mining, and other associated crimes.

Gold Worth $1.5 Billion Smuggled

It is clear to see that powerful individuals are taking advantage of a situation of chaos in order to make a quick buck. Zimbabwe has been in turmoil for many years and it seems that the illegal gold trade is only taking advantage of this situation. The recent scandal regarding gold worth $1.5 billion being smuggled by syndicates linked to political elites further highlights this.

The report from the International Crisis Group (ICG) published in 2020 points to gold worth $1.5 billion being smuggled out of Zimbabwe each year. While it may not be surprising to hear of criminal activities taking place in the country, the fact that members of the political elite are involved in the illegal gold trade is terrifying. What is even more concerning is that the plans to export the gold are leaked to journalists posing as criminals.

As part of the documentary series ‘Gold Mafia’, Al Jazeera journalists posed as foreign criminals desperate to launder billions of dollars through the sale of Zimbabwe’s gold overseas. The series went undercover to record the conversations between Angel, founder of a United Kingdom-based church, licenced gold dealers, security officials and airport staff at the Robert Mugabe Airport. They were all describing the syndicates operating in the illegal gold trade.

Incidents such as these, which are enabled by corrupt political elites are a pitiful representation of the state of the country. It is extremely disheartening to think that Zimbabwe’s gold is being used for the pursuit of personal enrichment rather than for the betterment of the country and its people. What is even more disturbing is the fact that government officials are at the heart of this criminal activity.

The first two episodes of the documentary series have already aired with two more expected to be broadcast this month. It is hoped that this series will not just uncover the truth behind what has been going on in the country but will also showcase the contribution of numerous brave individuals who risk their lives to speak up against the criminal activities taking place in the country. The government of Zimbabwe needs to take swift action against the criminal syndicates and those who aid them.

Zimbabwe’s Government Denied its Investments

The Government of Zimbabwe has recently released a statement denying any connections with or investments in gold smuggling after news of a planned documentary broke out by Al Jazeera. The statement was issued by the Ministry of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting, which is led by Senator Monica Mutsvangwa.

According to the statement, the Zimbabwean government is taking this opportunity to reaffirm its commitment to upholding local and international laws that are related to financial transactions, gold trading, and other precious minerals. In addition, it denied any involvement of the government with the trading of gold and would not credit any of the “boastful behaviour” of the personalities featured in the documentary to the government.

The reaction from The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe was one of disbelief of the allegations made in the documentary and called them “false allegations” that were implemented to damage the reputation of the country.

The statement was met with scepticism from many observers due to the tense relations between Zimbabwe and the foreign press. The distrust for foreign media stems from repeated cases of corruption and fraudulent activity that have been reported on in the times prior, some of which have yet to be resolved. As the documentary sector can be prone to exaggeration and hyperbolical ideas, Zimbabwe’s government has appealed to the public to remain sceptical of the documentary, and to weigh the evidence before drawing conclusions.

The documentary is an integral part of the Al Jazeera Investigative Unit’s initiative of exposing trafficking across Africa. As gold mining and trading are integral components of Zimbabwe’s economic growth, the government needs to act fast in allaying the public’s concerns and avoid a clash with international media.

Overall, Zimbabwe’s government has denied any involvement in gold smuggling, and have reiterated their commitment to responsible and transparent trading with the precious mineral. It is expected that the government will soon provide more evidence relating to their denial.

In recent years, Zimbabwe has become increasingly synonymous with crime and corruption. A powerful criminal network known as “The Gold Mafia” is believed to be behind much of this illicit activity. The Gold Mafia is said to control the gold trade in Zimbabwe, using their power and influence to smuggle gold out of the country and launder money. This criminal network is a major source of instability in Zimbabwe, and its activities have had a negative impact on the country’s economy.

Ericson Mangoli
Ericson Mangoli is the founder and Managing Editor of Who Owns Africa, a platform for African journalism that focuses on politics, governance, and business. With a passion for truth and a dedication to highlighting pressing issues in Africa, Mangoli has become a significant voice in the field. He embarked on this journey after graduating with a degree in communications and realizing his true calling was in investigative reporting and shedding light on untold stories.  Who Owns Africa provides thought-provoking articles, in-depth analyses, and incisive commentary to help people understand the complexities of the region. Mangoli is committed to impartiality and ethical reporting, setting high standards for his team. His vision for the platform is to foster critical thinking and promote informed discussions that have a positive impact on African society. Mangoli is known for his eloquent and insightful writing which tackles pressing issues in Africa. His articles cover a range of topics including political corruption, economic development, fostering international partnerships, and African governance. He sheds light on the complexities of these subjects and empowers readers to engage in conversations for positive change. Mangoli's coverage of African politics analyzes the factors that drive change and hinder progress, while his reporting on governance advocates for stronger institutions and policies. Additionally, he explores the challenges and opportunities facing African businesses and inspires readers to contribute to Africa's economic growth.


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