HARARE – Ewan Macmillan, who played for Zimbabwe in the African country’s last Rugby World Cup appearance in 1991, has since become a convicted and controversial gold dealer who has now sensationally claimed, unknowingly filmed, to control his country’s government through his wealth.

Al Jazeera was on Thursday expected to broadcast the first of a four-part documentary, Gold Mafia, after a two year investigation by the Qatar-based news network into rampant corruption and minerals plunder in the troubled African nation.

The world renowned news outlet said in a statement that it has now put on pause the broadcast, in which former Zimbabwe scrumhalf Macmillan was secretly recorded confessing to being a ringleader in illicit activities where gold worth several millions of United States dollars is smuggled out of Zimbabwe weekly using private planes in connivance with powerful politicians.

“There is an opportunity, a hell of a big opportunity to wash money here,” Macmillan was captured telling Al Jazeera undercover journalists posing as racketeers looking for money-cleaning deals worth millions.

In another quote, 52-year-old Macmillan allegedly refers to Zimbabwe’s vice-president Constantino Chiwenga as a “dunderhead.”

And then in another recording, Macmillan – born in the small Zimbabwean provincial town of Chinhoyi in an entrepreneurship family – claims that “we basically control 99% of the government” due to his vast wealth.

Before business took over in adult life – Macmillan was a keen sportsman stemming from his countryside boyhood days at Lomagundi College in Chinhoyi – an agricultural and mining town 117-km northwest of the capital Harare.

His forte was rugby, where opponents and teammates alike remember him as “an extremely competitive and fierce player, very abrasive, but a bit of a bully on the field.”

Zimbabwe was the only African team in the first two editions of the Rugby World Cup, in 1987 and 1991.

A very young Macmillan was in the 1991 World Cup squad, making his Test debut for Zimbabwe in that tournament in Britain and France in the heavy 51-12 defeat to Scotland at Murrayfield.

Some of his better known Zimbabwe teammates in that World Cup were the trailblazing Richard Tsimba – the late World Rugby Hall of Famer – Sable and later Springbok Adrian Garvey, as well as current national team coach Brendan Dawson.

Macmillan’s last Test appearance for Zimbabwe was away to Kenya in Nairobi in 1993 in a World Cup qualifier, an international career that lasted just four caps for the Sables.

Domestically, he was a key member of a very dominant Old Hararians Sports Club throughout the late 80s to mid-90s. His father, Ian Macmillan, also a colossal figure in business in his prime, was a leading sports administrator who was chairman of the great Old Hararians rugby section.


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