JOHANNESBURG – Zimbabweans don’t know real poverty. That’s the shock claim by the wealth-flaunting property tycoon, Frank Buyanga.
Buyanga last month shelled out in excess of $3 million dollars including customs duty on a Bugatti Veyron Fbg par Hermès, which the French car marker describes on its website as “highly exclusive” with only a handful ever made.
The money spent on the Bugatti can buy 1,000 Honda Fits – the entry level car of choice in Zimbabwe.
Buyanga was asked by reporters over the weekend if he felt any shame in “driving such a car amid such grinding poverty” in Zimbabwe.
“There’s no real poverty in Zimbabwe. You should visit other parts of Africa where I’ve spent a lot of my time then you’ll get a reality check,” Buyanga told The Daily News.
“Zimbabwe has just been badly managed and the wheels are starting to turn and as I say, if my establishment is to involve itself, the economy with flourish.”
The millionaire businessman, who currently lives in South Africa but travels frequently to Zimbabwe, has faced internet accusations of “spitting in the faces of the poor”.
This week, Zimbabweans are battling runaway food shortages and price increases fuelled by lack of foreign currency to pay for critical imports.
Monsters on wheels … Three of Buyanga’s supercars, from left a Ferrari F12, the Bugatti Veyron and the Maserati Granturismo GT.
Buyanga insists that he sees his car collection as assets. His garage boasts a Rolls-Royce Wraith, a Bentley Bentayga V8, a Ferrari F12 Berlinetta, a Maserati Granturismo GT, a Mercedes Benz SLS AMG, two Lamborghinis, an Aston Martin DB9, a Bentley Continental, a BMW M5, a Mercedes G-Class and several other SUVs.
He once declared in a TV interview: “I don’t know how many cars I have, of course I don’t.”
Buyanga, who says working as a cab driver in England humbled him, is hopeful of expanding his investments in Zimbabwe. He spent six years in self-imposed exile after former State Security Minister Nicholas Goche, who had borrowed thousands of dollars from his Hamilton Finance micro-lending company defaulted, before accusing the 38-year-old businessman of being a “loan-shark” and setting the police on him.
The businessman’s portfolio now includes construction, mining, finance and property in several African countries, including Zambia, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Zimbabwe and South Africa
“There is huge potential for Zimbabwe. I try not point fingers in life but in providing solutions. Our plans are already underway for us to be part of the new Zimbabwe going forward,” he said.
Earlier this year, Buyanga’s African Medallion Group acquired the Cape Mint which produces precious metal medallions, numismatic coins, medals and cufflinks.
He also acquired the Pagliari Group jewellers.
“The idea to set up the African Medallion Group came to me upon the announcement of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe introducing the bond note. That is the day I gave up on modern-day economics and created a gold-backed currency,” he told the Daily News.
“I have various applications including but not limited to conventional and semi-conventional hybrid solutions to make Zimbabwe the single largest producer, trader and buyer of gold on the world.”