CIVIC Society group, the Zimbabwe Coalition for Debt and Development (Zimcodd) has called for a special commission of inquiry to investigate findings by Qatari news channel, Al Jazeera after it emerged that Zimbabwe has been losing close to 200 kilogrammes of gold every month.
Details from the four-episode explosive documentary have shown that the country has been losing gold through illicit flows, spearheaded by people close to president Emmerson Mnangagwa.
“Zimcodd expresses great concern over the Al Jazeera documentary titled Gold Mafia episode 1 and 2. This is a 4-episode documentary series which exposes alleged gold smuggling syndicates, Illicit Financial Flows (IFFs), 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 US$50kgs of gold per week to gold smuggling syndicates who claim to have connections to the highest echelons of power,” Zimcodd said.
Zimcodd said the commission of inquiry will enable Zimbabwe to unearth the nitty-gritties of gold smuggling, its networks and implications. The organisation said smuggling allegations have also become a national security threat.
“The findings will also shape court proceedings in a bid to prosecute and recover all lost revenue. To this end, 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 organisation said.
“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 relinquish Mr. Angel from his appointment and revoke.”
Zimcodd also said involvement of the country’s highest financial institutions shows how seriously the gold smuggling has been institutionalised.
Findings show that 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 in monthly bribes by controversial Kenyan tycoon Kamlesh Pattni to facilitate illicit gold smuggling.
The documentary revealed that Kunaka was paid the amount during his tenure as general manager.
“One guy that is responsible for the gold sales, his name is (Mehluleli) Dube. Dube is getting good benefits from Plattni, US$3 000 per month. He is also the signing authority for getting this licence for sale and purchase,” narrated Dawood Khan, a former ring member, during the second episode of the documentary titled Gold Mafia-Smoke and Mirrors. Zimcodd said the smuggling has worsened the country’s socio-economic challenges, by stealing an opportunity to generate revenue to address the same. According to the Zimbabwe Vulnerability Assessment Committee report, 7.7 million people are living in extreme poverty. Of these, 3.8 million people in rural areas are in need of food assistance, with 1.6 million facing food insecurity.
The country also has the highest food inflation. In 2022, the World Bank ranked Zimbabwe as the country with the highest food inflation, despite official figures showing that food price levels have been scaling downwards.
In addition, 6.4 million children living in poverty, of which 10% of children aged between 6-24 months are consuming a minimally acceptable diet, while 4.6 million students are in need of Basic Education Module Assistance (BEAM.
“Approximately 68% of pre-primary aged children (3-5 years) and 47% adolescents (13- 18 years) are not in school. The country has only one Radiotherapy machine for 16 million citizens suspend.”