Mnangagwa’s presidential envoy abuses his position
CHARISMATIC Zimbabwean evangelist and President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s special envoy on Trade and Investment, Uebert Angel, is embroiled in a money laundering scandal involving the abuse of diplomatic privileges after he was caught on camera revealing how he has illicitly moved hundreds of millions of United States dollars under his cover.
According to a new Al Jazeera Investigative Unit documentary titled Gold Mafia — Episode 1 — The Laundry Service, elites linked to Mnangagwa’s government are involved in illicit financial flows and the smuggling of gold.
In the 51-minute long exposé, Angel is caught on camera bragging that he is one of the richest personalities in a country where over a third of its 15 million population is living in extreme poverty.
Gold is Zimbabwe top foreign currency earner but a new expose by Qatar based television channel Al Jazeera has shown how Uebert Angel is involved in the complex smuggling of the yellow metal to predominantly the United Arab Emirates while prejudicing treasury of millions of revenue in export proceeds.
He also assures the investigative unit that he could move money in and out of Zimbabwe without declaring the country’s tax authorities. He also confessed that he had moved hundreds of millions of dollars in the past. In March 2021 Angel, born Uebert Mudzanire, was appointed Zimbabwe’s ambassa dor-at-large and presidential envoy by Mnangagwa.
The ambassadorial role came with the responsibility for Angel to seek trade and investment opportunities for Zimbabwe.
“I’m not stupid. I have two degrees in finance. So I have done a lot, okay. I am in the Forbes Magazine. I am in the Forbes Rich List of 2013 (Africa Forbes Rich List). And remember I am also a minister of the gospel,” Angel brags before he was interjected to answer if he could move gold or money without any “trouble”.
“Don’t worry … Trust me, I have already… I did this okay. This is what is happening and we have got it done … This is gonna be how much?” The investigators then said they would start with at least US$1 billion. “One billion? Now, we have done maybe for two hundred million or hundred million. But we have not done for one billion per se.”
Angel and his assistant, the documentary reveals, then stepped out of a meeting room with a man identified as Mr Stanley whom he assured that he could move the money outside the taxman’s dragnet.
“I am the second largest diplomat in the country. Do you know I can carry him in a bag and nobody is allowed to search. I can carry him in a bag and nobody touches the bag. Right now I can have a bag like this with 1.2 billion and put a red tape written diplomat. That’s it.
“So it’s a very very easy thing. It will land in Zimbabwe. Zimbabwe can’t touch it until I get to my house.”
Under the 1961 Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations the mission may send one of its members to take possession of the diplomatic bag directly and freely from the captain of the aircraft. The diplomatic bag may contain only official correspondence, and documents or articles intended exclusively for official use. In accordance with Article 27.3 of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations (VCDR), properly designated diplomatic pouches “shall not be opened or detained.”
Although inspection of a pouch by X-ray would not physically break the external seal of the shipment, such an action constitutes the modern-day electronic equivalent of “opening” a pouch.
As a result, the United States does not search properly designated and handled diplomatic pouches, either physically or electronically (e.g., by X-ray) and considers it a serious breach of the clear obligations of the VCDR for another country to do so.
According to a trade report by the country’s statistical agency, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has consolidated its position as Zimbabwe’s second-largest export destination as gold shipments to the region continue to grow.
Fly Emirates, the UAE flag carrier, has over the past few years increased flights to Harare as trade between the two destinations surged.