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AU accomplice in Zimbabwe corruption

by Staff reporter
25 Jul 2023 at 08:24hrs | Views
THE sincerity of African leaders and institutions in fighting corruption has come under scrutiny following the appointment of controversial Zimbabwean self-styled prophet Uebert Angel as its Pan-African Parliament ambassador for interfaith dialogue and humanitarian affairs.

In March this year, Angel found himself in the eye of a storm after he emerged as a leading role actor in Al Jazeera's revealing Gold Mafia investigation scandal, which implicates President Emmerson Mnangagwa and his cronies in rampant gold smuggling, money laundering and corruption, as well as conspiracy to commit financial crimes.

Through phone calls, Angel also implicated Mnangagwa's gold runner Pedzisayi "Scott" Sakupwanya, whom he says has managed to keep his wealth through close connections with President Mnangagwa.

Sakupwanya, a Mnangagwa loyalist, is one of the financers of the Zanu-PF strongman's election campaign.

Sakupwanya is also a member of the Zanu-PF resource mobilisation committee responsible for fundraising for the party's 23 August election campaign. In the phone call, Sakupwanya is heard saying that he had sold six tonnes of gold in a space of 10 months.

In the first episode, Angel also exposed the role played by Zimbabwe Miners' Federation (ZMF) president Henrietta Rushwaya in the gold smuggling syndicate, through a phone call in which she reveals that they use private jets to pick up gold as part of smuggling and laundering activities. Rushwaya is Mnangagwa's niece.

Angels' appointment has been met with shock by human rights defenders.

"Corruption appears to know no bounds in Zimbabwe. This fake prophet Uebert Angel continues to be protected by a corrupt regime bent on power retention. Disgraceful," said Piers Pigou, southern Africa programme head at the Institute for Security Studies.

The Al Jazeera's Investigative Unit has also underlined Angel's role in money laundering in its documentary.

"Uebert Angel the Gold Mafia kingpin is appointed as an African Union ambassador. Our investigation exposed Angel asking undercover reporters for a $200 000 bribe to make a corrupt deal with Zimbabwe's president Mnangagwa and use his diplomatic privilege to launder money," said AJ Unit in a tweet.

Outspoken Zambian political activist Joseph Kalimbwe said the appointment of Angel is a threat to transparency and good governance in Africa.

"Gold Smuggler, Uebert Angel (as he admitted on Al Jazeera) was appointed as Ambassador of the Pan-African Parliament; with the help of Charumbira. His appointment is a threat to African democracy; we must never sit and watch Zanu-PF stooges destroy African institutions!" said Kalimbwe.

Chief Fortune Charumbira is the AU's Pan-African Parliament president and also the president of the Zimbabwe Council of Chiefs, as well as a senator.

In April, police in Masvingo province opened an indecent assault charge against Charumbira on allegations of sexually abusing his 27-year-old married niece on two occasions.

Charumbira, who has not been arrested over the case, has maintained that the charges are part of a smear campaign against him.

Other countries have been tightening bolts on the Gold Mafia scandal. For instance, last week, the United Arab Emirates suspended the accreditation of one of its biggest gold refineries, Emirates Gold DMCC, over concerns that its owners had ties to alleged money launderers.

According to the people familiar with the UAE decision, two of the ultimate beneficial owners of Emirates Gold are relatives of Zimbabwean businessmen Simon Rudland and Howard Baker.

The Emirates Gold Bullion Committee, which is chaired by the Economy ministry, removed the refinery due to concerns its owners were connected to alleged money launderers, according to people familiar with the thinking behind the decision, according to Bloomberg.

As reported by The NewsHawks, Rudland's role was exposed in the documentary as part of people who have been using South Africa's banking system to launder money in UAE banks.

 Findings by the Gold Mafia documentary show that Rudland's company, Gold Leaf Tobacco, has allegedly been washing money earned through the sale of illicit cigarettes, externalising it to the UAE through PKSA, a shadowy company owned by Mohammed Khan, notorious for externalising money, according to former mafia member Dawood Khan.

The money is then used to buy gold from Zimbabwe's Fidelity Printers and Refiners, the country's largest gold buyer. Zimbabwean gold dealer Ewan MacMillan, also implicated in the smuggling, said Rudland has a separate arrangement and bankrolls the country.

Some of the gold is sold to Rudland's company, Aulion Global Trading, in Dubai. It is from these proceeds that MacMillan says Rudland lends the government money to buy gold.
"He gives Fidelity the money to buy the gold for him to export.

Fidelity's debt to him at one time is US$200 million, US$250 million. That is huge," MacMillan says. His links to the documentary have seen the United Kingdom take measures against him.

The London Bullion Market Association, which regulates the UK capital's precious metals market, also followed suit, and suspended the refinery's affiliate membership after a due diligence review.

Source - NewsHawks