“I don’t know how many cars I have, of course I don’t. How am I supposed to know? It’s not like I wake up in the morning and start counting how many cars I have everywhere,” Frank Buyanga revealed during a rare interview with the Click Africa programme on Africa Magic in 2012. This is one man definitely living life in the fabulous lane, an avenue that many wannabes are trying to copy. The Zimbabwean millionaire and property investor has been listed in Africa’s top 10 young business entrepreneurs below the age of 40 years, according to African Globe, an African entrepreneurs magazine.
Nigeria and South Africa lead Africa’s newest crop of young US dollar millionaires aged below 40 years who have inspirational stories. Three each were from Nigeria and South Africa and one each from Ghana, Uganda, Kenya with Buyanga being the sole Zimbabwean representative.
According to Ventures Africa, the ten young millionaires embraced new technology and utilised foreign investment to boost businesses that diversified Africa’s economic landscape through technology innovation, property, mining exploration as well as brokering of lucrative government contracts.
“Zimbabwe may be experiencing the worst economic meltdown in its history but Frank Buyanga has proved to be an entrepreneurial ray of hope for young businesspeople hoping to make it,” the New Age reported.
Buyanga, the paper added, is “among the richest young businesspeople in Africa . . . with impressive investments in Zimbabwe, South Africa, and Zambia and as far as the United Kingdom.”
The report glosses over Buyanga’s controversial brand blaming the negative reports on petty jealousies: “(His success has) upset his competitors in his home country who accused him of conning people of their properties” is says. Buyanga was placed under police investigation since 2008, which was wound up in January with the Zimbabwe Republic Police stating in High Court papers that it had found no evidence of criminality against him.
Born Tawanda Buyanga in the UK 33 years ago, he reinvented himself as Frank Buyanga Sadiq a few years back.
For a flashy personality who believes in conspicuous consumerism, Buyanga is strangely media shy.
The Saturday Herald Lifestyle spoke to Buyanga about the accolade and he said he is honoured to get the recognition. He would not be drawn into commenting on his recent clearance by the police except to reiterate that he has always maintained his innocence.
“I have always made my position on that clear,” he said.
Like many other rich people in the country the provenance of Buyanga’s wealth is subject to much speculation. He stuck to his story saying, “The source of my wealth is not a secret. I have explained it before.”
In May 2012, Buyanga revealed that he received US$25 million from British property tycoon, Nicholas van Hoogstraten, in 2008.
“He gave me money, US$25 million. One of my property companies received US$25 million as a facility, and out of that I think we used US$10 million and that’s it,” Buyanga revealed on Click Africa on DSTV’s Africa Magic channel.
It is perfectly comprehensible that Buyanga should disdain to talk about the number of his cars for it is not how many they are but rather what they are which matters. Buyanga owns an Aston Martin DB9, a Range Rover, a BMW M6, two Lamborghinis, a Bentley Continental, a latest Mercedes 4×4 and a Rolls Royce, and that is not a comprehensive round up of his wheels.
The businessman, with an estimated $20 million personal fortune recently forked out $345,000 to acquire his latest toy a 2014 Bentley Mulsanne named last August in BBC Top Gear’s top five luxury cars that guarantee “utter serenity”.
The Bentley, which came third in that list, “will show those peasants who is boss,” Top Gear said in the review, which listed the Rolls-Royce Phantom EWB as the ultimate and the Mercedes Benz S-Class 350 Blue-Efficiency as its first runner up.
In 2013 Buyanga crashed his $230,000 Ferrari 458 Italia in Cape Town. He extensively damaged the front end of his expensive motor in wet weather after failing to negotiate Cape Town’s famous Hospital Bend shortly after 6am.
In 2010, Buyanga bought a R4 million Rolls-Royce Ghost, but still hasn’t had a chance to drive it after the luxury car was locked up at the Sunnyside Police Station in Pretoria since it was impounded in December on its way to Zimbabwe. Buyanga said his car was “hijacked” by police. SAPS at the time claimed the car was part of an ongoing investigation. They suspected it was stolen.
According to media reports police in Hampshire in the UK, where Buyanga bought it, said the vehicle was never part of any of their investigations, nor was it suspected to be stolen. Buyanga’s extensive acquisition drive is not limited to fuel guzzlers only. The mogul who owns several companies in Zimbabwe says has no idea how many properties he owns either.
“I don’t know, that would be a task. I would have to start counting,” he was once quoted saying.
His currently most talked about acquisition is a 3,2 million rand one-bedroom apartment at the Michelangelo Towers, a high class establishment in Sandton, SA where Buyanga is reportedly not the best of tenants. nezimbabwe.com alleges that his neighbours accuse him of being arrogant and a noted womaniser. His co-tenants are not amused by Buyanga’s overbearing demand for more than his allotted two parking spaces as he insists on having five or so of his posh wheels on hand to suit his driving mood for the hour.
Buyanga who is allegedly a stalwart of the ZAOGA church is not married and is to be seen with various beautiful women at social outings. A source revealed that he has no affinity for any particular clothing designer and will buy anything that takes his fancy — from the top end of the market only, of course.
The same source also says he is a gourmand well known for patronising Buyanga’s Hamilton business portfolio has tentacles spread across property investments, micro finance lending, insurance and funeral assurance following his recent acquisition of Cell Funeral.
The magnate — who is said to count South African President Jacob Zuma, former Malawian President Bakili Muluzi and Equatorial Guinea strongman President Obiang Nguema among his friends seems to be emerging as an international power player
In 2010, he was photographed in the company of President Zuma, top government and ANC officials and South African businesspeople on tour in Russia and China.
In Zambia, Buyanga is in partnership with Zimbabwean businessman Ian Haruperi who is reportedly close to former President Rupiah Banda. Haruperi was also part of Zuma’s entourage to Russia in August.
Buyanga also has a philanthropic face. He was reported to be a “saviour” in South Africa when through the Hamilton Foundation, where he is the chairperson, announced that it would donate R500 000 (about US$55 000) to 10 child-headed families in Alexandria and pledged to continue with the donations until the children were able to look after themselves.