REAL MADRID and Barcelona football legend, Luis Figo, plans to invest in Zimbabwe’s mining sector, as details of his whistle stop tour of Bulawayo begin to emerge.
The former Portuguese international’s visit to the city comes after he was connected to Bulawayo businessman, Musa Mpofu, by South African businessman, Gayton Mckenzie.
Figo spent Wednesday and Thursday at Happy Valley Mine — owned by Musa’s father Reverend Lot Mpofu — in Esigodini.
“Figo is a good friend of McKenzie’s, who is also a good friend of the Mpofu family,” Mpofu explained.
“He had come to visit as a friend.
“We took him (Figo) to our Happy Valley Mine in Hope Fountain and we drove around Bulawayo.”
Mckenzie is a well-known socialite in neighbouring South Africa where he is partner to Kenny Kunene in the ZAR Lounge, Club and Bar business venture.
Mpofu said Figo asked several questions about Bulawayo, the business climate and investment prospects.
“He was asking many questions on how we live in Bulawayo and how business is performing,” Mpofu added.
“He promised to visit the country again soon. We are so happy, as a family, to have played host to a world celebrated footballer like Figo.
“He (Figo) was so impressed with Bulawayo, he said the weather was perfect.
“He spent most of his time at the mine, but we then drove around Bulawayo for him to see places.”
Among the places Figo visited is the National Museum of Natural Sciences and History, where he was mobbed by schoolchildren who were also visiting the place.
“There were schoolchildren visiting the museum and they recognised him. It was amazing how easily they recognised him,” he said.
“We quickly left to avoid a stampede.”
“I was impressed with his level of humility.
“There was no language barrier, as Figo speaks fluent English. So it was easy to make conversation with him.
“He is the kind of person who wants to get as much knowledge about people, their place and culture as possible.”
Figo arrived in the country on Thursday and was booked at the Holiday Inn after checking out from another local hotel where he had initially been booked.
According to South Africa’s Mail&Guardian newspaper, McKenzie, who facilitated the visit, spent seven years in prison for two counts of armed robbery, where he met Kunene, who was serving a six-year jail term for fraud.
They were both released in 2003, with Kunene saying, after their release, they made millions of rand from selling McKenzie’s autobiography, Hustler’s Bible.
He said they invested the money in a fish distribution business, where they made more profits.
McKenzie, according to Kunene, is a phenomenal and successful public speaker who charged as much as R40 000 and R50 000 for speaking events.
According to the paper, after leaving prison, McKenzie and Kunene became key executives at mining company Central Rand Gold.
The two are reported to have business interests in Zimbabwe, in the fuel and mining industries.
“We are the biggest investors in Zimbabwe, because we believe that Zimbabwe’s revolution is approaching its end and (President Robert) Mugabe will now be working towards leaving a lasting legacy for its people,” Kunene is quoted as saying.
“I count Mugabe among my heroes and that’s why I believe in his country, despite whatever you may read.”
Speaking at the Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo International Airport, shortly before their departure on Friday, McKenzie showered praises on Mugabe, saying the world was being unfair on the 89-year-old leader and Zimbabwe by not accepting the results of the July 31 elections.
“The world is being very unfair. You held your elections and I am saying why the world is being unfair to Zimbabwe,” McKenzie said.
“Most Zimbabweans do not understand that this country is a gift that your President has given to you, he has given you your own land and your own mines.”