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Mnangagwa: Godfather of corrupt gold networks —Gold Mafia



WITH Episode4 of Al Jazeera’s revealing investigative news film Gold Mafia, which exposes gold smuggling, money laundering and corruption, now over, Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa ultimately comes out as Mario Puzo’s Vito Corleone (Brando) — The Godfather or simply mafia boss.


 Al Jazeera’s investigation shows that different gold smuggling syndicates looting gold and salting away proceeds to offshore accounts have one common thread — links to Mnangagwa. Main characters in the film 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 (Gold Dealer Brother Paul) and Alistair Mathias (Gold Trader — The Architect).

 Mnangagwa’s wife Auxillia, the Family Lady, and his gold baron Pedzisayi “Scott” Sakupwanya (New Mr Gold) kept the President firmly at the centre of action in the last episode. One gold smuggler described Mnangagwa — referred to in some instances as Mr Jones — as his business partner. Another talked of him as an on-and-off partner whom he still meets. A third said he had to keep the president in the loop about gold smuggling operations.

One said he delivers payments to Mnangagwa at State House in Harare fortnightly. Mnangagwa’s niece Henrietta Rushwaya outlined an elaborate money laundering and gold smuggling scheme through a US$10 million revolving fund that she promised to help execute to clean a Chinese triad boss (Mr Stanley)’s dirty US$1.2 billion. And Angel pulls out all the stops to deliver, including by dialling Rushwaya and the President’s wife Auxillia, the Family Lady, to try to seal a laundering deal.

Auxillia tells Angels to talk to the President, something he said he was going to do urgently to find out if the US$1.2 billion would be transported in the President’s private jet or the mafia’s. At that point it becomes clear that the deal had been seriously discussed among them. Access to Mnangagwa costs between US$200 000 and US$1 million. Angel, who was bitterly disappointed that he did not get any of “facilitation fees” that he pushed hard for, claimed it was not a bribe to be paid to Mnangagwa, but a “thank you”.

But a token of appreciation is not demanded, especially brazenly and aggressively. Gold Mafia, a four-part investigation by Al Jazeera, reveals how some of Southern Africa’s biggest gold smuggling gangs plunder their countries to enrich themselves, while helping criminals launder hundreds of millions of dollars. Zimbabwe loses US$1.5 billion a year due to this looting. Undercover reporters from Al Jazeera posed as Chinese criminals to infiltrate these gold gangs, which offered them a range of options to wash dirty money using Zimbabwean bullion.

In episode after episode, featuring different gold networks and actors, one name kept cropping up — Mnangagwa. However, Mnangagwa became associated with gold dealings way back before he became President of Zimbabwe. His links with the Macmillan family were a public secret. When Mnangagwa ousted the late former president Robert Mugabe in a November 2017 coup, he promised a break with the past but nothing has changed. In some cases things have become worse, particularly economic problems and corruption.

Al Jazeera’s investigation shows deepening corruption reflecting growing kleptocracy. Evidently the main actors in the film are All the President’s Men as The NewsHawks characterised them right from Episode1-4. These characters featured prominently through the documentary story arc from trailers, exposition, rising action, climax and now falling action; dénouement.

The leading characters’ different and competing yet related activities pivot around Mnangagwa, leaving him as Gold Mafia film’s own Corleone, an actor similar to Puzo’s protagonist in the famous American 1972 crime film The Godfather directed by Francis Ford Coppola. One of Hollywood’s greatest critical and commercial successes, The Godfather broke new ground; not only did the movie transcend expectations, it also established new benchmarks for American cinema.

Gold Mafia, with all its gaps, sets new standards for local investigative journalism by telling an important story in a creative way which demonstrates how Zimbabwe’s natural resources are being plundered by a greedy political and business elite through smuggling, money laundering and corruption. Main actors who expose Mnangagwa:

Alistair Mathias — The Architect

 “There is no president or head of state that either us cannot get to on this continent. Next door Swaziland (Eswatini), the King (Mswati III) is a friend of mine. Zambia’s President (Hakainde Hichilema) is a close friend of my friend. DRC Congo, the President (Felix Tshisekedi) has invited me several times to come and build a refinery,” he says. “Ghana’s President (Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo) is a good friend of mine.

 He was my lawyer. (South African President) Cyril Ramaphosa here, I know him. I know his kids. “In Zim, ED (President Emmerson Mnangagwa) is my partner. I can’t say it in public because he is sanctioned.”

Kamlesh Pattni — Gold Dealer

“This is his (Mnangagwa’s) number. I call him Tembo (elephant in Swahili),” Pattni says. At that point one of the Al Jazeera undercover reporters says: “You WhatsApp him?. ‘I always give him how much we have done… Yeah, he has to be informed. I was just writing him a message here’,” he adds, showing the reporters WhatsApp messages he exchanged with the Mnangagwa.

One of the undercover reporters appears to be stunned and asks: “This is the President’s number. Direct to the President?” Pattni responds: “Yes directly . . . I have to inform him. He has to be informed. I’ve informed him what is happening in Tanzania, that we are putting up [a] gold coin factory in Bulawayo.”

Pattni shows multiple photos of him with Mnangagwa, while offering to set up a meeting between the Chinese mafia (Al Jazeera reporters) and the President. And then the bombshell drops as Pattni, who almost bankrupted Kenya in the 1990s through a gold scandal which cost the Treasury US$600 million, reveals he makes payments to Mnangagwa as “appreciation” every two weeks through his young brother to sustain the network. “This is like the norm of life. The incentives, the fees… the appreciation,” Pattni says. “Every two weeks, Swetang, my brother is there.

Every fortnight, he is there at the State House (Harare). We always contribute our appreciation.” At this point one of the reporters asks: “To Mnangagwa?” And Pattni says: “To the King himself. When you work, you must always have the King with you. The President.”

Ewan Macmillan-Mr Gold

Macmillan claims Mnangagwa is his business partner and gets protection from him. “The good news is that whatever I told him (Mnangagwa), he did. You know that (asking Mathias)? . . . When I was getting hurt I said ‘you have got to stop it here, here, here and he did it, he did it. Within two weeks, he fixed everything.

“You know (Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe governor John) Mangudya’s problem. I said to him (Mnangagwa), ‘Mangudya, I think he is dirty. You need to find him out. ED went and fixed him’.” However, Macmillan’s links to Mnangagwa come at a price. “You pay a guy money every month. You just get a partner and pay the guy so much money a month and he just sits back. He is happy, doesn’t care. That’s what happens,” he says. In Episode2, Macmillan says: “I did 60 days in prison and my partner is . . . the President!.”

Their relationship has not always been smooth. When Macmillan was arrested, Mnangagwa told him to shut up his mouth. “He was my partner, my exact partner. He said to me, don’t open your mouth. Your life will get worse than it is,” Macmillan recalls. “I said f**k, are you kidding me.”

Over the years, their ties broke but when they met at a dinner they quickly reconnected. “I walked in and he (Mnangagwa) said, ‘good to see you, my old friend’,” Macmillan says. “And I said ‘very good to see you and well done on your position’.”

Macmillan and Emmerson Jr

Macmillan has deep ties with the Mnangagwa family. These days he is close to the President’s son Emmerson Jr. “I can put you straight in touch with him, that’s no problem, he’s a friend of mine,” Macmillan says. The gold dealer narrates how he once rescued Emmerson Jr from debt through an expensive watch stolen from his father, the President, bragging about his fancy luxury watches.

“I have the steel Daytona, I have the Submariner, I have the gold Submariner, I have two Presidents,” Macmillan says, referring to his catalogue of Rolex watches.

Then came a shocker: “This is between us. I have Mnangagwa’s gold-studded President,” Macmillan said. “The son ran into debt and had to pay the debt off so he gave me the Rolex. I paid the debt off, and he said, ‘Please don’t tell my dad’, and I think, ‘F**k, man, you’re joking. I’ve got the dad’s watch’.”

Auxillia Mnangagwa gets National Budget allocation
President Emmerson Mnangagwa and the First Lady Auxillia Mnangagwa

Auxillia and Angel

“Eh Mai. Mai Vangu. Murisei (My mom, how are you)?,” Angel says.

“Remember those people that want to move cash? They would want to know are we providing the planes or they provide the planes?”

Auxillia responds: “You should ask father about this. How should I know? Let me get hold of him.”

Angel continues: “I’ll see to it. I’ll see him at 6PM, and I will present to him. I will present it to him. Then you will discuss which plane he uses, his or their own. But, it is not a big deal? Sometimes he will be busy. We spoke about it. So I am just going to present it today.’ Auxillia injects: “Aiwa enda unodzokorora futi. No go and have that conversation again.”

Unrelenting, Angel says: “But is it doable, it’s achievable? It won’t be difficult. But please don’t be annoyed with me, I could tell when you were annoyed.” With that it becomes more clear Mnangagwa is the centre of gravity in the operation.

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