Fradreck Kunaka has left Fidelity Printers and Refiners (FPR) following the end of his tenure as general manager after leading the country’s sole buyer and marketer of gold for six years, Business Times can reveal.
Finance director, Peter Magaramombe, has since been appointed acting general manager.
Business Times first reported in March that Kunaka was leaving Fidelity this year. This paper can report that the executive left the company last week.
“I’m now at home and I left Fidelity Printers at the end of May to pave the way for the unbundling processes,” Kunaka said.
He added: “For now get in touch with [Peter] Magaramombe he is now the main man there.
“After all, my contract with the gold buying and processing company was done so I had to leave to pursue other interests but I will always be there to help the gold industry and mining sector as a whole.”
Kunaka spent over 20 years at FPR, six of those as general manager.
He said the internal overhaul at the soon to be unbundled FPR into two units — gold refining and printing and minting, was the major reason for his departure.
FPR’s parent company, the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) will wholly own the printing and minting business and retain 40% shareholding in the refining entity.
But, the central bank will offer 50% shareholding in FPR to the large-scale gold producers, 3% to major FPR gold buying agents and the balance of 7% to the small-scale producers through their representative bodies.
The move will end the gold monopoly by FPR, which has been the country’s only buyer, refiner and exporter of gold for more than 40 years.
The monopoly, however, has been criticised by some who were seeking to invest in Zimbabwe’s gold sector.
RBZ is expecting that the gold producers’ compliance levels in the trading of gold will significantly increase due to the fact that gold dealers will be part of the decision making process in gold trading.
The privatisation of FPR comes after lobbying from some players in the mining business.
Given the developments, well-placed sources told this publication that Kunaka was expected to leave his position as it had become untenable.
Other sources told this publication that the tide finally turned following FPR’s failure to pay miners, resulting in them smuggling the yellow metal to alternative markets.
The country is said to have been losing at least US$100m worth of gold every month due to smuggling, according to Home Affairs Minister, Kazembe Kazembe.
Recently, Kunaka told Business Times that the country lost over 30 tonnes last year to rampant smuggling.
There have also been unfriendly policies, which have resulted in unsatisfactory deliveries to FPR.
Last year, about 19.1 tonnes of gold was delivered to FPR from a target of 28 tonnes.
Zimbabwe could have missed out on gains it could have harvested from record high gold prices of US$2, 070 in November 2020.