Connect with us

Support The NewsHawks


President Mnangagwa tramples on protocol in Chivayo dealings



PRESIDENT Emmerson Mnangagwa trampled on protocol at the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair by bringing in a business associate, Wicknell Chivayo, who has a criminal record, to receive a foreign head of state, Kenyan President William Ruto.


Chivayo is close to Mnangagwa and has been making money through state contracts, including the Zesa tenders, construction jobs and providing material to the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission which are all approved at the very top.

There are suggestions that Mnangagwa, who has a penchant for associating with dodgy characters, brought in Chivayo for personal deals.

Mnangagwa has also positioned First Lady Auxillia Mnangagwa and his children at the centre of cutting pure family business deals with Belarus using the influence of his state power.

Last year, Auxillia flew out of the country with her twin children, Sean and Collins, to hold separate meetings with Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko and his Foreign minister Sergei Aleinik on pure personal deals using her proximity to power in Harare.

According to Belarus media house Belta, Auxillia discussed issues involving business deals in agriculture, technology and mining.

In another development that showed how Mnangagwa is using state power to cement the First Family’s business ties, in February last year he was captured by the media arriving in Malabo in Equatorial Guinea, with his son Emmerson Junior.

Equatorial Guinea is ruled by Teodoro Obiang Nguema and his son Teodoro Jnr who is Vice-President, an arrangement Mnangagwa will be happy to stitch back home in Harare.

Early in the year, Mnangagwa and Lukashenko met in Harare and Emmerson Jnr attended high-level meetings at State House despite not being a government official amid concern that he was pursuing family business interests.

In the latest development Mnangagwa appeared shoulder to shoulder with his associate Chivayo receiving Ruto at the ZITF in Bulawayo. A day before, Mnangagwa had also appeared with Chivayo touring the ZITF stands.

Before that, during the Easter celebrations of the Zion Christian Church in Mbungu, Mnangagwa again appeared with Chivayo on the podium, with social media posts suggesting they used the same presidential private jet to travel.

When Mnangagwa toured a grain milling plant in Tynwald, Harare, co-run by his younger brother Patrick and another businessman from the Midlands Douglas Kwande, Chivayo was also in his company, with close security details allowing him to come close to the head of state.

After leaving school, Chivayo, who was born in 1982, is said to have begun working as a wages clerk at a local bus company in Harare at the age of 15.

Later, he engaged in illegal forex exchange deals at Harare’s Union Avenue Flea Market, which is now known as Kwame Nkrumah Avenue.

Subsequently, Chivayo was arrested in 2004 and in 2005 he was convicted for money laundering involving R837 000 by the High Court. He was slapped with a five-year jail term, with two years suspended on condition of good behaviour. He served three years.

In August 2018, Chivayo appeared at the Harare magistrates’ court facing four charges of fraud, money laundering and contravening the Exchange Control Act for receiving US$5 million from the state-owned Zimbabwe Power Company (ZPC) for a solar power plant project in Gwanda.

He was charged together with his company Intratrek Zimbabwe and pleaded not guilty to the charges when he appeared before magistrate Elisha Singano. He was found not guilty in the high-profile case.

In a turn of events, Chivayo approached the High Court and sued the ZPC for US$25 million for “breach and repudiation of contract” by making claims it had been prejudiced of that money.

Justice Siyabonga Paul Msithu in January last year took a swipe at the ZPC for “frustrating its contractor who was awarded a tende çhat was sanctioned by the country’s State Procurement Board”.

Mnangagwa has a long history of associating with dodgy characters.

Two of Mnangagwa’s close allies were in in 2021 named in a landmark investigation exposing international secret deals, tax evasions and hidden wealth, adding to the growing list of his associates involved in dodgy dealings.

Last year, Gold Mafia, a four-episode investigative news series by Al Jazeera, which uncovered gold smuggling, money laundering and corruption, exposed Mnangagwa’s association with dodgy characters implicated him in financial crimes.

The investigation showed 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 was a key interlocutor throughout the documentary, Rikki Doolan, Ewan Macmillan (Mr Gold), Kamlesh Pattni (Gold Dealer Brother Paul) and Alistair Mathias (Gold Trader — The Architect).

Mnangagwa’s wife Auxillia, and his gold baron ally Pedzai “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.

In 2021, two of Mnangagwa’s close allies were also named in a landmark investigation exposing international secret deals, tax evasions and hidden wealth, adding to the growing list of his associates involved in dodgy dealings.

These were his then deputy chief secretary for administration and finance Martin Rushwaya, who is now the chief secretary to Mnangagwa and cabinet, and to whom he is related. Mnangagwa’s close business ally Billy Rautenbach was the second one.

The two were exposed in what was dubbed the Pandora Papers, an investigation conducted by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) — an ensemble of 600 journalists from 150 media outlets in 117 countries.

They went through more than 11.9 million documents leaked from 14 offshore financial services firms. ICIJ found that 35 heads of state and government and more than 300 politicians have set up offshore structures and trusts in tax havens from the British Virgin Islands, Panama, Seychelles, to Hong Kong and Belize.

There were emails, memos, incorporation records, share certificates, compliance reports and corporate structures. ICIJ reported that Rushwaya created Greatgem Corp in the Seychelles in 2010 with the help of a Moscow law firm.

The company was accused of facilitating the Zimbabwean military’s secret diamond dealings and off-budget financing.

Rautenbach, who was Mnangagwa’s ally even during the days of the Democratic Republic of Congo war, in which they were both mentioned in reports as having looted diamonds from the country, was accused of hiding his wealth in an offshore family trust under the guise of it being payment to his wife for her contribution in building the family wealth.

“In 2013, one of Zimbabwe’s richest men and arguably one of the most controversial business figures in southern Africa, Muller Conrad ‘Billy’ Rautenbach, donated multimillion-dollar financial investments in his coal and ethanol businesses to his wife. This restructuring was explained by the need to ‘compensate’ her for her role in building the family’s wealth,” the AmaBungane Centre for Investigative Journalism report reads.

Mnangagwa’s list of associates also includes business tycoon Kudakwashe Tagwirei, who is on United States sanctions.

Mnangagwa also seems to have an appetite for opaque deals from shady shelf companies and dodgy businesspersons, including British-registered Coven Energy Limited, which was awarded a US$1.3 billion deal to build Zimbabwe’s second fuel pipeline.

It was then revealed that the company was incorporated on 25 August last year, with assets amounting to £100. Coven Energy’s name has been added to the list of foreign companies awarded massive projects with no traceable track record.

Since Mnangagwa’s ascension in 2017, many of the companies that have signed mega-deals have either been connected to the President, his family or cronies in government. Nothing much has come out of the deals partly because of the questionable track record of the investors involved.

During the start of his tenure, Mnangagwa claimed he had clinched US$11 billion worth of business commitments, the bulk of which were murky deals, spearheaded by dodgy characters.

Some of the deals Mnangagwa clinched in the “New Dispensation” involve controversial business characters, including Zunaid Moti, Lucas Pouroulis and Jacco Immink.

In 2018, Moti reportedly invested US$300 million to set up a chrome extraction and processing plant in Zimbabwe along the mineral-rich Great Dyke.

During that time, Moti was arrested in Germany on charges that he defrauded his former business partner Alibek Issaev an estimated US$35 million in a sham mining deal in Lebanon in 2013.

In June that year, Mnangagwa’s crony Pourolis signed a controversial US$4.2 billion deal with the government, paving way for his investment vehicle Karo Resources to grab mineral claims stretching over 23 903 hectares previously held by Zimplats along the Great Dyke.

The US$4.2 billion cost had been plucked out of thin air, raising questions over the value of the investment. The Pourolis family holds a 42% stake in Tharisa Plc, which has only managed to mobilise US$8 million for the implementation of the platinum project.

In 2005, Pourolis made a fortune after acquiring South Africa’s Impala Platinum subsidiary Elandsfontein Platinum Project for US$15 million, before selling it two years later for US$1.1 billion to Xstrata in a speculative deal. Karo Resources is a company registered in Cyprus and Guernsey, a tax haven blacklisted by the European Union.

Continue Reading
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *