Turka Estate ignites latest gold rush

Brandon Dube (not his real name) reckons he has made more than $100,000 from black market gold dealing in the last four years.

Dube is the central link in a syndicate that connects Zimbabwe’s gold dealers with South Africa, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Dubai.

“I have been dealing in gold for almost four years now and I’ve lost count of how much gold I have bought, but it has made me rich,” said Dube (37), a former high school teacher. “You can make about $700 every week, but if you buy the right gold, you score more,” he told The Zimbabwean.

Turka Estate in Chimanimani is the latest place in Zimbabwe to catch gold fever.It contains gold deposits unofficially estimated to be worth millions of dollars.

Dube takes the gold he buys to buyers in Mutare, Harare or further afield in South Africa, Botswana and Mozambique borders. He more than doubles his money on every deal.

A resettled farmer and war veteran in the area who declined to be named said he had decided to form syndicates with the illegal miners to dig for gold on the 20 ha plot allocated to him during the infamous fast track land redistribution programme started in 2000.

“There is no proper farming taking place. We do not have adequate inputs and most of us do not have any technical expertise. We are struggling to earn a living from the land, so we have ventured into gold panning,” he said.

“The farms that belong to the new farmers are rich in gold. So the famers themselves have abandoned farming and are now concentrating on illegal mining,” said George Chitehwe, an illegal miner.

There have been running battles between farm occupiers and illegal miners. “Last week they came and took down my fence. They are now digging for gold. I have tried to restrict them but they have refused to go and they are almost digging the whole farm.

I have made reports to the police and they did some raids. But some of the police are being given bribes so they allow hepanners to continue digging up my farm,” said one ‘new’ farmer.

With a hyperinflation-crippled economy offering few alternatives, about 10,000 people, including women and children, are reportedly mining and buying gold in Chimanimani. The town’s streets are awash with the latest models of cars.

Even school children have abandoned school, while teachers are trading the chalk stick for the shovel.

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