PRESIDENT Emmerson Mnangagwa has reportedly thrown under the bus his ambassador-at-large, Uebert Madzanire, alias Uebert Angel, as it emerged yesterday that he is under investigation for alleged money-laundering.
Angel, the leader of Spirit Embassy Church, was recently fingered in a yet to be released graft exposé as part of a gang that has been allegedly milking the country’s resources using their links in government and political circles.
The British-Zimbabwean televangelist was implicated in grand theft and looting by Qatar-based international news channel, Al Jazeera, in a documentary expected to be released today.
He was named alongside local gold dealer Ewan MacMillan, who is also reportedly under investigation by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU).
The Al Jazeera documentary, titled Unveiling Zimbabwe’s Dark Secrets: Al Jazeera Exposes Looting, Plunder and Money Laundering, has shaken authorities as it exposes the role played by senior government officials and their cronies in the country’s endemic corruption.
The first of the four-part documentary is expected to be aired tonight on Al Jazeera.
In a letter addressed to principal officers and compliance officers of insurance companies, brokers and reinsurers dated March 21, 2023, Insurance and Pensions Commission (Ipec) chairperson Grace Muradzikwa exposed the secret government probe into Angel and MacMillan’s financil affairs.
“The Ipec is required in terms of the Money Laundering and Proceeds of Crime (MLPC) Act (Chapter 9:24) to co-ordinate with the (Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe’s) Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) in the assessment of money-laundering and terrorist financing risks to which the country is exposed,” Muradzikwa said.
“Pursuant to the above, we are in receipt of an urgent communication from the FIU requesting all industry players to assist with information (i) on insurance products (ii) insured assets held or disposed (of) by the above individuals (Angel and MacMillan) directly or indirectly through companies or trusts during the period January 1, 2020 to March 21, 2023.
“You are, therefore, required to submit your responses within 48 hours, latest by mid-day Thursday (today). The information being requested is confidential, in terms of section 31 of the MLPC Act and, therefore, should be regarded as such.”
Early this month, RBZ governor John Mangudya hinted at the probe when reacting to the Al Jazeera exposé, saying “was I supposed to wait” to investigate money-laundering allegations, “waiting for what when the house is burning”.
A trailer released by Al Jazeera exposes Angel as one of the key figures in looting, money-laundering and plunder.
In another trailer, MacMillan refers to one comrade Chiwenga — believed to be Vice-President Constantino Chiwenga — as a “dunderhead”, and says they control 90% of the Zimbabwe government.
Government information officers have reportedly been at sixes and sevens as to how to deal with the exposé.
Information and Publicity ministry secretary Ndavaningi Mangwana admitted that there was corruption in the country and claimed authorities were trying to fight graft in what was seen as an attempt to pre-empt the documentary. The country has previously been ranked as one of the most corrupt nations by anti-corruption watchdogs.
On Monday, former Finance minister Tendai Biti said the country was losing over US$2 billion every year to illicit financial flows and corruption.
“What we are losing in terms of illicit financial flows is actually more than what we are getting in terms of diaspora remittances US$1 billion, what we are getting in terms of foreign aid or overseas development assistance and what we are getting in terms of foreign investment which is around US$200 million,” Biti said in Parliament on Monday.
“The mining sector is bleeding. It is accounting for US$6/US$7 billion a year, yet billions are getting out of our country. We have got 65 minerals, but they are not benefiting our country. Most of the mining model in Zimbabwe is extractive. You come in, you loot and you get out, leaving total destruction, unemployment and so forth.”
Biti added: “We are now losing possibly US$2 billion on lithium alone. As I am talking to you right now, the price of lithium is US$80 000 a tonne. That is the new black gold and we have nothing to show for it.
“I urge that the authorities come up with legislation on illicit financial flows and push the United Nations to come up with an international convention that deals with illicit financial flows.”