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Gold panner builds modern shopping mall

By Vumani Mthiyane

A youthful artisanal miner in Gwanda town has defied the odds by building an upmarket shopping mall situated in the mining town’s central business district.

Artisanal miners are popularly for their reckless spending of the proceeds they get from their mining activities, but the 29-year-old Philisani Kaweni has gone against the grain to invest in property.

The shopping mall known as the Mussina of Gwanda was constructed with proceeds from Kaweni’s gold mining activities.

Kaweni is said to be currently selling 1.5kgs of gold per week to the country’s sole gold buyer, Fidelity Printers and Refiners.

Situated in the heart of the provincial capital the new eye-catching structure will bolster the town’s bid for city status and at the same time uplifting economic activities in the province.

In an interview on the sidelines of the official commissioning of the building on Tuesday Gwanda Mayor, Councillor Justone Mazhale said the development is a result of partnerships the local authority is pursuing with private investors.

“As a council, we are happy to see our town growing like this. We had a deliberate ploy to identify potential local investors, hence Kaweni was one of them.

“Our land is not for locals only but we also reserved for those companies listed in the stock exchange.

“As you are coming into Gwanda from Bulawayo, close to Chicken Inn there are commercial stands that will cater for Econet, PSMAS, Pick n Pay, Afids and Zaphalala while other will be taken by locals,” he said.

There is no way we can become a city without such big companies, added the Mayor.

Asked on where he got his inspiration to invest in buildings after his long service in mining which started in 2014 Kaweni said that he is inspired by the government’s vision 2030.

“I am an established businessman, as a youth, I am inspiring other youths to work towards investment for the growing of the economy encouraged by vision 2030.”

Speaking to CITE, Gwanda Small Scale Miners Association, Chairperson, Yenzani Dube said Kaweni has set a precedent for other miners.

“This is fantastic. As Otsheketsha (artisanal miners) people have a tendency of looking down upon us as bad people in society and careless money spenders.

“Not all of us are like that as evidenced by what Philisani has done. He has done us proud as small scale miners and this move will transform people’s minds about us.

“However, this will go long way in encouraging other small miners to invest in buildings because mining has a short life span,” said Chairperson Dube.

The shopping mall that has opened to the public has boutiques, grocery shops, saloons and a restaurant among other businesses.

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