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Gold Mafia, the stage play: Enter ‘Half Empty, Half Full’



TRUST Jasen Mphepo to always portray the story of troubled Zimbabwe through theatre. For it is his gift. Jasen and his talented cast have kept generations of Zimbabwean audiences engaged and glued to the set for many years.


These days, Mphepo runs the “Little Theatre”, a stone’s throw away from central Harare. Yep, it is little in name, but not so tiny in the quality of the productions stemming from this hidden hub on Emmerson Mnangagwa (formerly Enterprise) Road.

That is the other irony: Little Theatre is found on a location that the current head-of-state of Zimbabwe has given his name to.

These days, albeit against much resistance by the citizenry, Enterprise Road in uptown Harare has been renamed Emmerson Mnangagwa Road after the man who benefitted from the ouster of the late Robert Mugabe in a military coup in 2017.

 It is right at the beginning of the sprawling street, which then leads into some of Harare’s swankiest neighbourhoods and then deep into one of the country’s best-known rural areas – Shamva, Murewa, Mutoko.

So, what a symbolic setting it is, Little Theatre, for creative entertainers to express themselves freely about how their beloved nation is governed.

 It is here that “Half Empty, Half Full”, a yesteryear play, recently had a short run from 18 to 20 May 2023. If you have watched Al Jazeera’s explosive investigative documentary on Zimbabwe, titled Gold Mafia, you would certainly want to watch what they dished out on Enterprise…oops…Mnangagwa Road! Oh well, needless to mention that the President of the country is also heavily implicated in the “Gold Mafia” blockbuster.

 In a four-part documentary series, the investigation reveals how billions of dollars’ worth of unaccounted gold is moved from Zimbabwe to Dubai in massive laundering activity. Now, Half Empty, Half Full has attempted to package the Gold Mafia in a manner that the theatre lover appreciates.

Starring seasoned actor Teddy Mangawa and Tafadzwa Hananda, the two-man production is still as relevant now as it was a decade ago.

An excerpt from the play between the actors Teddy and Taffy goes like: Teddy: “Look, there are opportunities in the mining industry. You just have to play your game right and find relevant people . . . All you need is one dig and boom, you are on top.” Taffy: “Really?” Teddy:

“Taffy my friend, this country will wake up one day but while it’s enjoying slumber, we must loot it. We must loot it badly for ourselves and children.”

 Taffy: “How do I get into this mining business?” Teddy: “Easy!”

 While the play does not explicitly say who is involved in the illegitimate gold operations, it does in a big way lay blame on politically connected individuals and the powers-that-be. Al Jazeera’s documentary revealed massive gold smuggling, money laundering and corruption, with Zimbabwean President Mnangagwa ultimately coming across as Mario Puzo’s Vito Corleone (Brando) — The Godfather or simply the mafia boss.

Al Jazeera’s investigation shows that different smuggling syndicates looting gold and salting away proceeds to offshore accounts have one common thread — links to Mnangagwa.

 Main characters in the film who sucked Mnangagwa into the vortex of action include his own Envoy and Ambassador-at-Large Uebert Angel, a self-styled prophet who is a key interlocutor throughout the documentary (Diplomatic Mafia), Rikki Doolan (Diplomatic Mafia), Ewan Macmillan (Mr Gold), Kamlesh Pattni (Gold Dealer aka Brother Paul) and Alistair Mathias (Gold Trader aka The Architect). Mnangagwa’s wife Auxillia, the Family Lady, and his gold baron sidekick Pedzisayi “Scott” Sakupwanya (New Mr Gold) kept the President firmly at the centre of action in Al Jazeera’s blockbuster documentary.

 One gold smuggler described Mnangagwa — referred to in some instances as Mr Jones — as his business partner.

Another spoke of him as an on-and-off partner whom he still meets. A third said he had to keep the President in the loop about gold smuggling operations.

 Without further ado, catch this masterpiece by Jasen & Co and rest assured that whilst the content of Gold Mafia probably upset you as a citizen, its artistic impression may leave you “half full” of distress.

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