GOVERNMENT yesterday said it has launched own investigations into the corruption allegations raised in the four-part Al Jazeera documentary, Gold Mafia: The Laundry Service, which exposes illicit financial flows and rampant smuggling of gold out of Zimbabwe by the elite, but analysts rapped the State for taking long to react after the exposé was broadcast.
After part one and two of the documentary were released, individual government officials, however, rubbished the exposé through social media posts, describing it as a load of hot air.
Presidential spokesperson George Charamba also attempted to gag the local media from reporting on the issue.
Some parts of the documentary mention the role of the First Lady Auxillia Mnangagwa and one of his sons in the gold smuggling ring.
But yesterday, Information and Publicity minister Monica Mutsvangwa told journalists that government has since ordered investigations on the matter.
“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,” Mutsvangwa said.
“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. Government (also) takes this opportunity to re-affirm its commitment to upholding local and international laws, including laws relating to financial transactions, the trade of gold and other precious minerals.”
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Centre for Natural Resource Governance director Farai Maguwu said government’s reaction was long overdue.
“I applaud Mutsvangwa and government for this statement which was very long overdue, moreso, in the face of reckless statements by some pseudo analysts who are trying hard to seek relevance by defending the indefensible. Similarly, the State media was deafeningly silent on the matter — maybe waiting to know government position and reaction,” said Maguwu.
“But it should not end with a statement; the nation must be informed of the outcome of the investigations. Both State-embedded and transnational criminal networks must be nabbed and brought to justice. Only lengthy prison sentences can reduce the scourge.”
Zimbabwe Coalition on Debt and Development programmes director John Maketo said swift action such as the suspension of all gold licences pending investigations was needed.
“The (government) statement failed to comprehend the scale and magnitude of the matter which requires more than just an investigation,” Maketo said.
“While appreciating the commitment to investigate, swift actions are called for to immediately plague illicit dealings in gold trading within and across the borders to maximise revenue flows from the precious mineral.
“A temporary suspension of all gold licences pending investigations is in order. Government must not be seen to be persecuting whistleblowers but protecting the same as this will counter efforts being made in the fight against corruption.”