Letters: Institute an inquiry into gold smuggling, money laundering

Letters to the Editor

THE Zimbabwe Coalition on Debt and Development (Zimcodd) expresses great concern over the two of four episodes of the Al Jazeera documentary titled Gold Mafia.

The four-episode documentary series exposes alleged gold smuggling syndicates, illicit financial flows, money laundering, corruption, State capture, power dynamics and the abuse of diplomatic immunity and privileges.

We acknowledge the progressive development of the story and government’s statement responding to this issue and proffer immediate recommendations for investigation and resolution of the matter.

The broadcast episodes show that Zimbabwe is losing an average of 500kg of gold per week to gold smuggling syndicates which claim to have connections to the highest echelons of power.

Key public institutions such as the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) and Fidelity Printers and Refiners, which are responsible for gold production and exportation, are all implicated.

This points to the scale and magnitude of the gold smuggling, which has possibly been institutionalised.

While the gold smuggling process is so sophisticated as to fit squarely under white collar crime, the implications are detrimental to domestic resource mobilisation and public service delivery.

The most brutal impact of gold smuggling is that it worsens socio-economic challenges that Zimbabweans are facing by stealing an opportunity to robustly generate revenue to address the same.

These social and economic ills being encountered by the citizens include but are not limited to the following:

  • 7,7 million people are living in extreme poverty;
  • 3,8 million rural people are in need of food assistance;
  • 1,6 million urban people are in need of food assistance;
  • 4,8 million children living in poverty;
  • 1,6 million children are living in extreme poverty;
  • 10% of children aged between six and 24 months are consuming a minimally acceptable diet;
  • 4,6 million students are in need of Basic Education Assistance Module;
  • Approximately 68% of children aged three to five years and 47% adolescents (13-18 years) are not in school;
  • Only one radiotherapy machine for 16 million citizens.

The arrogance and boastfulness of one Uebert Angel in the documentary, stating how he can easily smuggle national resources, is not only a cause for concern, but a mockery of our national security.

The ignorance or wilful misrepresentation of the same person as being the second-in-command in our governance system again is a breach to our national Constitution.

To this end, Zimcodd is appealing to the Office of the President and Cabinet to immediately recall Angel from his post and revoke all diplomatic privileges pending further investigations.

It is apparent that the individual has misrepresented Zimbabwe as a haven of sanctioned criminality, a contrast to ambassadorial roles.

Zimcodd further calls upon the Office of the President and Cabinet to set up a special commission of inquiry to ascertain guilt and hold all implicated officials accountable.

The special commission of inquiry must adopt the following standards and model:

  • suspend licences of the implicated pending investigations,
  • be headed by a reputable former head of State or diplomat and a High Court judge.
  • be independent and empowered to fulfil its mandate.
  • broadcast all its investigations.
  • be given the power to subpoena.
  • consist of at least three reputable Members of Parliament from both the ruling and opposition party.
  • collaborate with the similar investigations which are being carried out in South Africa for the same cause, so as to triangulate facts and findings.
  • have a running timeframe of three months.
  • have the legal authority to access any relevant document.
  • have the authority to freeze properties of the implicated persons.
  • give sound and actionable recommendations.

The successful establishment of this special commission of inquiry will enable Zimbabwe to unearth the nitty-gritties of gold smuggling, its networks and implications.

The findings will also shape court proceedings in a bid to prosecute and recover all lost revenue. - Zimcodd 

Gold Mafia: Govt statement leaves out pertinent questions

TWO days ago, I read Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services minister Monica Mutsvangwa’s statement where she said: “Government takes the allegations raised in the documentary seriously, and has directed relevant organs to institute investigations into the issues raised therein.”

On the upside, it is, indeed, commendable that the minister’s statement abandons the earlier official stance that government would comment only after the fourth and last episode of the documentary had been aired.

Yet it has been clear that urgent action is needed on open and shut evidence that has come out of the mouths or the actions of key interlocutors in the documentary — such as ambassador plenipotentiary Uebert Angel, Henrietta Rushwaya, Ewan MacMillan, Kamlesh Pattni, Simon Rudland’s couriers and some officials at Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport, who may be continuing their gold smuggling and money laundering.

For example, if truth be told, that Angel is still in his diplomatic post is disgraceful. There’s just no ambassador like him anywhere, not even in banana republics.

His readiness and eagerness to use his diplomatic status to entertain people who introduce themselves to him as criminals in order to facilitate their criminal activities is hair-raising.

Mutsvangwa’s statement is, therefore, welcome. Eyes will now be on what happens next.

There’s however a downside to the minister’s statement because it is manifestly vague and embarrassing in that it lends itself to multiple interpretations, some of which are cynical, because no one in particular has been assigned to do the investigation, meaning nothing will happen.

Unfortunately, this might invite sentiments that government is, in fact, not taking seriously the allegations of gold smuggling and money laundering raised in the Al Jazeera documentary.

And the bambazonke “touch everything” reference to “government” is unhelpful because it does not clarify which arm of government is leading or co-ordinating the investigation.

Does “government” in this case mean Cabinet? If it does, why was that not stated as per the usual norm, and if it does not, then which government authority “has directed relevant organs to institute investigations into the issues raised”, and which are the “relevant organs” that have been directed to institute investigations?

Perhaps answers to these and related urgent and important questions will become clear sooner than later. Time will tell! - Anon 

Co-operate with police officers to avoid inconveniences

AS the nation commemorates the Easter holiday, the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) has intensified its operations against all forms of road traffic breaches and criminal activities, especially those that affect the economic and social well-being of the country, such as drug and substance abuse, murder, robbery and rape.

Records have shown that speeding, human error, misjudgement, overloading and defective motor vehicles contribute to accidents.

The ZRP, therefore, urges drivers to be considerate on the roads and avoid driving under the influence of alcohol. Reckless driving conduct, especially overtaking in situations which are not safe, should be avoided.

Motorists are implored not to exceed the loading capacity of vehicles when carrying goods and passengers. Above all, operators of passenger public service vehicles are advised to adhere to the dictates of their route permits and time tables and avoid being dragged into dangerous and reckless road races for passengers.

We urge motorists to co-operate with police officers when stopped at roadblocks and check points in order to avoid inconveniences.

Police would be checking for various traffic violations, stolen motor vehicles, smuggling of minerals, criminal movements, cattle rustlers and drug traffickers on all major highways and roads in the country.

Police will impound all defective or un-roadworthy vehicles in order to safeguard lives. The public is urged to avoid boarding mshikashika or unregistered vehicles as they risk being mugged.

Stakeholders such as the Traffic Safety Council of Zimbabwe and Vehicle Examination Department will be working closely with the ZRP to ensure that the holidays are accident-free through awareness campaigns and blitz on errant motorists.

Let us all remember that road safety is a collective responsibility.

Criminal elements often take advantages of holidays to intensify their criminal enterprises such as committing unlawful entry and theft and robbery cases.

The public is, therefore, advised to be alert, security conscious, and avoid keeping large sums of money at home or when travelling.

The travelling public must always ensure that properties are secure and should not leave keys under door-mats, flower pots or any obvious place.

The ZRP will deploy officers to curtail criminal activities throughout the country through patrols, stop and search and crime awareness campaigns.

Parents and guardians are being advised to monitor the movement of their children and ensure that the children, especially the girl child, are left in the custody of mature and responsible people, if they are not travelling with them.

The police will ensure that drug peddlers are arrested and taken to court for justice to prevail.

Criminals involved in drug trafficking and peddling in communities will certainly be arrested without fear or favour.

Let us strive to prevent crime during the holidays and also drive to arrive alive on the road.

Police will ensure that criminals are accounted for while at the same time there is order and sanity on the roads. The ZRP wishes all a happy and accident free Easter Holiday. - Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi, Senior Staff Officer (Press and Public Relations)

IN response to Govt probes ‘Gold Mafia’ kingpins, TIMOTHY CONSTANTINE ZULU says: It would have been true if we had democracy in Zimbabwe.

HONEST CHIMBAMBO says: How can they probe themselves? It would be a first.

OBRIAN KANYEMBA says: How can government probe itself? Those at the top and their families are the ring leaders of these so-called Gold Mafias. An independent probe team should be tasked with the investigations.

MUENGWA SAMANTHA MAROWO says: It will be the same thing they did with the August 1, 2018 post-election shooting of civilians inquest. Nothing came out of that.

MTHOKOZISI MASAYI says: Which government when the very same people in that government are involved?

IN response to Women urged to venture into exports, ISAAC CHIEZA says: Very  good and encouraging. Zimbabweans must just start to have a business mindset and not always an employable mindset, which we have always been made to believe is the best.

IN response to 92% Zimbos have no confidence in police, LOVEMORE MUSHANGWE says: We don’t see them patrolling our streets, especially at night like they used to do.

GODWIN JOHNSON says: We no longer see them receiving better salaries and living conditions, which they used to do.

IN response to Zemura set to leave Bournemouth, SIMANGA NCUBE says: They don’t value Jordan Zemura. He is one of the least-paid players in the English Premier League.

TAU MUGADZA says: He should leave because he is a good player and can play anywhere.

ISAAC CHIEZA says: The English League underrates Zimbabwean players a lot. I don’t know what their problem is. It’s not about Zimbabweans being not good because if they were not good, why would the clubs waste time signing them?

NOBERT ALVIN DOKWANI says: Jordan Zemura plays every game and is a very consistent player of the team, yet he is the lowest paid in English Premier League. He should leave.

WILBERT CHIRINGA says: To be fair, he is the engine for Bournemouth. Without him, they will quickly find themselves in the relegation zone.

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