Of Gold Mafia

Gold Mafia is a 2023 investigative documentary series by the Al Jazeera Investigative Unit (I-Unit). The four-part series looks at how society’s obsession with gold through the ages underwrites a global shadow economy. It exposes the complicity of global financial institutions, regulators and governments in the criminality.

Gold Mafia documentary is based on undercover operations spanning three continents and thousands of documents detailing how government officials and businesspeople are profiting off the illegal movement of gold across borders in Southern Africa.

Posing as criminals from China looking to launder over $100m, Al Jazeera’s undercover reporters infiltrate the Gold Mafia to expose how they work and how they are using one of the world’s most-wanted commodities – gold – to enrich their syndicates as well as launder dirty money.

The Four Episode Documentary delves into the shadowy world of the gold trade in Southern Africa:

Gold Mafia Episode 1 The Laundry Service

Gold Mafia Episode 2 Smoke & Mirrors

Gold Mafia Episode 3 El Dorado

Gold Mafia Episode 4 Have The King With You

The Good

The exposé is easy to understand, giving infographics that make it easy to follow through the steps and places involved in the gold trading and money laundery.

The characters get introduced with gold filtered splash screens and a background update, so you know exactly who everyone is and can follow along the shocking revelations.

The camera angles are fascinating I kept wondering where and how the crew had hidden the cameras to get their footage. In one clip we see someone’s head of security saying that they will need to take away their phones to stop anyone recording the proceedings of their meeting and yet a whole documentary was being filmed.

The Bad

The series was initially supposed to be released Thursday, 02 March but got postponed due to unforeseen circumstances leaving people to speculate as to why this happened. No explanation was ever offered by Al Jazeera for the 3 week delay in release. Some suspected that Al Jazeera had been paid off to pull the plug on the explosive documentary.

Speculation is that the documentary could have been edited during the delay period to remove footage which incriminated some individuals or maybe to make sure the documentary told a very specific narrative. While its all speculation, what is obvious is that a clip which was shown in the initial trailer for the documentary was not shown in any of the 4 episodes… now what else did not make the final cut.

The Ugly

The sheer scale of corruption that the documentary exposes just boggles the mind… how much can one person “eat” while the country the state it is… This country could be rich but imagine we haven’t had a working radiotherapy machine at our hospitals in the past one and a half years. It costs two million dollars to buy and someone claims they can push 10 to 80 million dollars in a month.

The documentary is not only damning to Zimbabwe and Southern Africa but to Africa as a whole, the Gold mafia boost there is no head of state in Africa they cannot get to, they exploit the corrupt nature of politicians to make an obscene amount of money.

One could argue that perhaps they are over exaggerating and simply name dropping but still it reflects badly on our leaders that someone can casually drop their names to open doors into dodgy dealings.. If they goverened with transparently maybe there would be less room for corrupt dealings.

Al Jazeera is neither a court of law nor can the evidence revealed in the documentary be used in one. It would be quite easy for those who feature in the documentary to simply say they were just playing along and there is no way anyone can simply carry 1 Billion dollars in their diplomatic bag. At best maybe some investigations will happen and a few low level players will get thrown under the bus and business as usual.

Final Thoughts

We been knowing that there is corruption and looting of state resources this documentary just spotlighted its extent. Watching this documentary made it feel like it was an open invitation to come join in the plunder of the country if you can afford the buy in price to “appreciate” the facilitators.

You get to the end of documentary and you think, heads should be rolling for this, people should be resigning from their positions… Instead all you get is a perfomative statement about how the country has a zero tolerance for corruption and they will be looking into the allegations and that’s that.

What are we going to do about it?..

Have you watched the Al Jazeera documentary what are your thoughts?

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