WHILE the Zimbabwean government says it has taken measures to freeze accounts of the gold mafia and investigate the gold smuggling, money laundering and corruption, one of the kingpins, Henrietta Rushwaya has so far been spared.
Rushwaya, who is President of Zimbabwe Miners Federation, is President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s niece.
Government, through the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe’s Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU), has frozen bank accounts of those prominently mentioned in the Al Jazeera investigation into gold smuggling and looting.
Authorities acted against some gold barons, including Ewan Macmillan, Kamlesh Pattni and Simon Rudland, among others.
Prior to that FIU had dealt with Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe security manager Cleopas Chidodo who allegedly facilitates smuggling of contraband through the airport, David Chirozvi of Aurex jewellery, Mehluleli Dube of Fidelity Printers as well as Fredrick Kunaka of Fidelity Printers and Refiners.
However, Rushwaya has been spared action.
This raised eyebrows, especially given that she was arrested at Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport in Harare while checking in to board a flight to Dubai with 6kgs of gold worth US$360 000.
As previously reported by The NewsHawks, Rushwaya tried to call the First Lady Auxillia Mnangagwa to rescue her.
Rushwaya is also linked to Tashinga Nyasha Masinire who was arrested at OR Tambo International Airport in May 2021.
In addition, she features prominently in the Al Jazeera documentary.
“You are being directed to immediately identify and freeze all assets of the following individuals; Cleopas Chidodo, David Chirozvi, Mehlululi Dube and Fredrick Kunaka. May you also freeze all assets of legal persons and arrangements associated with them. Kindly treat this request as urgent,” read the FIU memo in part.
The FIU was however silent on people involved in the cockpit of the gold mafia ring, Uebert Angel who is President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s Special Envoy and Ambassador-at-Large to Europe and the Americas.
Angel brags about how he can smuggle in money and gold using his diplomatic position and proximity to Mnangagwa.
Ewan McMillan who is on the video exposing his operations is also excluded from the list.
Kenyan national Kamlesh Pattni, one of Africa’s most notorious gold dealers, was also not sanctioned. He calls himself “Brother Paul” and boasts of extensive contacts on the continent, including heads of state. He is among the dealers exposed through the investigation and has assets in Zimbabwe.
Another name exposed in the documentary is Mnangagwa’s niece Henrietta Rushwaya, who is the president of the Zimbabwe Miners’ Federation.
Angel calls Rushwaya during the meeting with Al Jazeera reporters who are posing as criminals with dirty cash that needs cleaning. Rushwaya readily offers to help the “gangsters” clean their money while offering a ready supply of gold.
It is not the first time Rushwaya has been implicated in a gold scam. In 2020, she was briefly arrested while trying to carry 6kg of gold from Zimbabwe to Dubai.
The money laundering plan Rushwaya outlined to reporters involved using dirty cash to buy Zimbabwean gold — which the criminals could then sell on the international market in exchange for legitimate money.
The four people who have had their accounts frozen are alleged facilitators, but the actual smugglers were let off the hook.
Part 2 of the four-part documentary lays bare how porous the airport is for smugglers through the help of Chidodo, a security manager. He revealed how criminal gangs can smuggle minerals and money through the airport, without repercussion – thanks to his facilitation.
Chidodo revealed he could facilitate smuggling with his own sidekick or with the smugglers’ courier of choice. Either way, he makes it possible.
Former Fidelity Printers and Refiners general manager Fradreck Kunaka and the company’s head of gold operations Mehluleli Dube were allegedly paid US$30 000 and US$3 000 kickbacks apiece each month by controversial Kenyan tycoon Pattni to facilitate illicit transactions and gold smuggling activities.
Chirozvi is Aurex Jewellery head of finance who is accused of enabling Pattni’s company to export gold and diamond jewellery. In return, Pattni pays tuition for Chirozvi’s child at University of Pretoria.
These four are enablers to the mafia operations, but the kingpins were left untouched.
Former minister Jonathan Moyo was among those who decried the arrest of enablers while leaving out the masterminds.
“Save that it is a misnomer to call Cleopas Chidodo, David Chirozvi, Mehluli Dube and Fredrik Kunaka, ‘Gold Mafia suspects’. Far from it, none of these suspects are the ‘Gold Mafia’, as captured in the Al Jazeera documentary; rather at worst they can best be described as ‘Gold Mafia Enablers’ or ‘Gold Mafia Pikininis’; otherwise they are all very important key ‘Gold Mafia Witnesses’. It would be unwise to go after all of these pikininis – on grounds that they incriminate themselves in the documentary when everyone has seen that their handlers, the real Gold Mafia as described in the documentary, have done more and better self-incrimination, and basically nailed themselves beyond any escape. For example, Ambassador Plenipotentiary Uebert Angel said he owns and runs something called Billion Group, which facilitates gold smuggling and money laundering. There is no reason for not freezing the assets of the Ambassador’s Billion Group, given what he says about it in the documentary,” said Moyo.