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Dismantle ruinous cartels: Zimcodd



A CIVIL society organisation, the Zimbabwe Coalition for Debt and Development (Zimcodd), has called for a complete overhaul of accountability institutions to break the chain of cartels that have been milking the country of its resources for self-enrichment, worsening the nation’s socio-economic crisis 43 years after Independence.


Zimcodd said the crisis has been exacerbated by poor governance and widespread corruption by politically connected elites who have been plundering national resources.

Last week, international news agency Al Jazeera aired the final episode in a four-part investigative documentary showing how politically-connected elites have been looting the country’s gold and using it for money laundering purposes.

 Kenyan gold smuggler Kamlesh Pattni, in the final episode, shows multiple photos of him with President Emmerson Mnangagwa, while offering to set up a meeting between the Chinese mafia (undercover Al Jazeera reporters) and the President.

 Pattni, who almost bankrupted Kenya in the 1990s through a gold scandal which cost that country’s treasury US$600 million, reveals he makes payments to Mnangagwa as “appreciation” every two weeks through his young brother to enable him to smoothly carry out his gold and money laundering operations in Zimbabwe.

The investigation also shows that different gold smuggling syndicates looting gold and salting away proceeds to offshore accounts have one common thread — links to Mnangagwa. Other people who sucked Mnangagwa into the vortex of action include his own envoy and ambassador-at-large Uebert Angel, a self-styled prophet who is a key interlocutor throughout the documentary (Diplomatic Mafia), Rikki Doolan (Diplomatic Mafia), Ewan Macmillan (Mr Gold), Kamlesh Pattni and Alistair Mathias (Gold Trader — The Architect). Alistair claims to be Mnangagwa’s partner.

 Also part of the ring is Mnangagwa’s wife Auxillia and gold baron Pedzisai “Scott” Sakupwanya (New Mr Gold), who has been building a war chest for Mnangagwa ahead of the 2023 general election. In the first episode, Mnangagwa’s niece Henrietta Rushwaya was caught pants down promising to facilitate gold smuggling for the undercover reporters.

 In 2020, Rushwaya was arrested for attempting to smuggle 6.7kg of gold worth US$366 000 at Robert Mugabe International Airport. Zimcodd said looting by politically connected acolytes has been worsening Zimbabwe’s socio-economic crisis, defeating the purpose of independence.

 “Zimbabwe is endowed with minerals and arable land. However, citizens are unable to enjoy the benefits due to graft. Recent revelations show that we lose over US$1 billion in gold leakages annually due to political cartels. Further, distribution of land during the land reform programme of the early 2000s only benefitted the cronies of the political elite.

“As such, there is need for an overhaul for our accountability institutions including strengthening the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (Zacc), Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) and Parliament to ensure that we break cartels holding the resources of the nation for private gain,” Zimcodd said in a statement to commemorate Independence Day on 18 April. Zimcodd said the looting has been taking a toll on citizens’ access to basic resources.

 “Ordinary citizens are unable to access basic services such as healthcare and education. The elite fly out for medical services while the poor are unable to access the most basic medication such as paracetamol. The resources that we already have such as minerals should be effectively used to promote the lives of citizens,” Zimcodd said. The inequality created by cartels has been weighing on overly-taxed citizens, and has seen a surge in drug abuse caused by spiralling un employment.

 “Amongst others, the 2% intermediated money transfer tax (IMMT) places demands on poor citizens while investors and multi-national corporations receive tax breaks and concessions in the mining sector with no trickle down value to local communities. As an initial action, government should implement a Wealth Tax to ensure that the richest of our society pay a fair share in tax.

“Bleak economic prospects for the youth have resulted in majority fleeing abroad while those who remain have now fallen to the drug curse. Addressing the socio-economic issues above will go a long way in lifting the youth out of this crisis and ensuring a sustainable future for our land and enjoyment of meaningful independence.”

 The country has been failing to service debts to international lenders like the World Bank. With a total consolidated debt of US$17.5 billion, Zimbabwe owes international creditors US$14.04 billion, with domestic debt pegged at US$3.4 billion.

 Debt owed to bilateral creditors is estimated at US$5.75 billion, while multilateral creditors are owed an estimated US$2.5 billion. In February, African Development Bank President Akinumwi Adesina jetted into the country together with former Mozambican president Joaquim Chissano to the Second Structured Dialogue Platform Meeting on the Arrears Clearance and Debt Resolution Process, aimed at mapping closure to Zimbabwe’s debt.

 “We continue to rely on aid and debt due to our inability to accrue value from domestic resources. The government of Zimbabwe must put in place an effective domestic resource mobilisation strategy for the country to escape from the aid and debt dependency syndrome. Further, a debt audit should be instituted to ascertain odious debt,” Zimcodd said.