LORD Robin Goldsmith, the United Kingdom’s minister for Overseas Territories, Commonwealth, Energy, Climate and Environment at the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, has told the British Parliament that his country is concerned with growing corruption in Zimbabwe.
He said the UK would engage relevant anti-graft bodies in Harare.
Goldsmith of Richmond Park made the remarks on Tuesday while responding to queries put forward in the UK Parliament by House of Lords member Jonathan Oates who wanted to know whether President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s Envoy and Ambassador-at-Large Uebert Angel could face any consequences in that country following revelation of his allegedly corrupt dealings in an Al Jazeera documentary titled The Gold Mafia.
“The UK sees corruption as an important barrier to economic reform and inclusive growth in Zimbabwe. We are engaging with the government of Zimbabwe, Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission, civil society and other actors in the fight against corruption in Zimbabwe,” said Goldsmith.
While responding as to whether Angel could face investigation in the UK since he stays there and has British citizenship, Goldsmith hinted that a probe could be opened on the ambassador-at-large despite his diplomatic status.
“Whilst Mr Angel holds a diplomatic passport he is not diplomatically accredited to the UK — countries are free to determine for themselves who they want to grant these passports to, but the passport itself does not confer any diplomatic status on the holder.
“We cannot comment further on specific cases at this stage,” he said.
Angel featured prominently in the four-part Al Jazeera investigative Gold Mafia series which showed that corrupt cartels were looting tonnes of Zimbabwe’s gold, enriching themselves at the expense of the country.
The documentary also showed that the cartels were all linked to President Emmerson Mnangagwa, who allegedly receives payment to facilitate their operations.
Zimbabwean gold was also being used to facilitate money laundering, the documentary revealed.
A recent investigation by The Sentry showed that companies linked to Mnangagwa and his deputy Constantino Chiwenga were paid US$3 million by African Chrome Fields, owned by the Moti Group in dirty chrome deals.
Last month, 6 473 people signed a petition on Change.org calling for the freezing of Angel’s assets in the UK. The petition said that Angel, alongside Zimbabwe Miners’ Federation president Henrietta Rushwaya and others, were behind money laundering and smuggling of gold out of Zimbabwe to Dubai.
The petitioners said the resources and money acquired through illegal means could help rebuild Zimbabwe’s collapsed economy.
While Angel featured prominently in the Al Jazeera documentary that showed the depth of corruption in Zimbabwe, Mnangagwa was the protagonist as everything evolved around him after it emerged a facilitation fee of US$200 000 is demanded from private investors who want to meet him.
There has been mounting pressure on Mnangagwa to fire Angel, but presidential spokesperson George Charamba has said he remains the ambassador-at-large.
Information minister Monica Mutsvangwa last month said the government had ordered investigations into Al Jazeera’s revelations.
There has been no update on the investigations yet and no-one has been arrested.
Lovemore Madhuku, Angel’s lawyer, last month held a Press conference in Harare and dismissed the documentary, claiming that his client was carrying out a special intelligence operation.