Zimbabwean Government’s First Response to Aljazeera Gold Mafia Documentary
By Prince Kurupati
For over two years, Al Jazeera through its investigative unit undertook an undercover investigation into the handling and exportation of Zimbabwean gold. The investigation revealed that a cabal of influential people, and clerical and political leaders are engaging in illicit gold exportation and money laundering schemes. The results of the investigation are being aired in a four-part docu-series dubbed Zimbabwean Gold Mafia. Only two episodes of the four-part docu-series have been aired thus far but the two have been enough to propel the Zimbabwean government to issue its first response.
Zimbabwe’s Minister of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Monica Mutsvangwa while addressing a press conference in the capital Harare said that the government following the revelations exposed in the Gold Mafia documentary will institute full-scale investigations of its own to determine the level of involvement in graft activities by the implicated individuals. She said that all those found guilty will face the full wrath of the law.
Government takes the allegations raised in the documentary seriously and has directed relevant organs to institute investigations into the issues raised therein… Any person found to have engaged in acts of corruption, fraud or any form of crime will face the full wrath of the law, Minister Mutsvangwa said.
The minister went further stating that Zimbabwe abides by the international statutes which guide the smooth flow of transactions on the global stage. She did however give a stern warning to the “personalities” featured in the documentary. Government takes this opportunity to reaffirm its commitment to upholding local and international laws, including laws relating to financial transactions, and the trade of gold and other precious minerals… Boastful behaviour and name-dropping by some personalities featured in the documentary, seeking personal gain and glory should never be taken as an enunciation of Government policy, she said.
Many Zimbabwean citizens posting on social media platforms Twitter and Facebook have welcomed the decision by the government to institute investigations. They however call upon the authorities to prosecute all those found guilty regardless of their status.
Meanwhile, soon after Minister Mutsvangwa’s press conference, the government spokesperson Nick Mangwana in a Twitter post announced that the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe through the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) had frozen the assets of eight implicated personalities.
Transparency International has since called upon the Financial Intelligence Unit, Zimbabwe Republic Police and the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission to investigate further and prosecute without bias all those implicated. In a statement, Transparency International said the documentary comes after the release of the 2022 Corruption Perceptions Index, which revealed endemic corruption in Zimbabwe, with a score of just 23 out of 100. New scandals of grand corruption and abuses of public office continue to emerge, which damages the country from the perspective of investors and development partners. Along with the shocking findings of the documentary, these results make clear that it’s time for the government to take stronger action against corruption and money laundering.
Furthermore, Transparency International added As the documentary highlights, more and more cartels work with individuals and institutions in Zimbabwe to move dirty money using anonymous trusts and shell companies in tax havens and other secretive jurisdictions. This insidious relationship facilitates organized crime and huge outflows of gold and other precious minerals… In particular, the documentary exposes incidences of alleged under-invoicing and under-declarations by registered gold dealers to Fidelity Printers and the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority, alleging even higher losses than previously assumed. This reduces the country’s ability to build critical infrastructure and support the needs of the population or respond to urgent challenges. To combat this, the government of Zimbabwe should strengthen mutual legal assistance with other involved jurisdictions to facilitate the exchange of information. They must also ensure that such institutions have the capacity to manage mutual legal assistance requests.