Last week the government of Zimbabwe issued a statement in response to the four-part series of the Gold Mafia documentary released by Al Jazeera investigative unit.
The statement was issued twelve days after the first episode was launched. To the surprise of many the government remained mum about the revelations made by the documentary which implicated Uebert Angel and Henrietta Rushwaya in smuggling of undeclared cash and gold in and out of the country.
The documentary exposed Ubert Angel who was appointed Presidential Envoy and Ambassador at Large President Emmerson Mnangagwa in March 2021.
Mnangagwa took overpower in 2017 from the late Robert Mugabe who had been at the helm of the country since 1980.
Angel’s role was to attract business and investment opportunities for the country in line with the second republic’s mantra-Zimbabwe is Open for Business.
Again, the documentary had implicated Zimbabwe Miners Federation President Henrietta Rushwaya who was arrested in 2020 for attempting to smuggle gold out of Zimbabwe.
Rushwaya is Mnangagwa’s niece.
The documentary also makes accusations of the central bank’s involvement in the illicit gold trading.
Vivid Gwede, a Harare based political analyst scoffed at the statement insisting it was inadequate given the gravity of the matter at hand.
“The response is threadbare because it does not address critical issues raised about important institutions of the state such as the central bank.
“There is a claim that there will be investigations but without really clearing the air on weighty accusations peddled against key state institutions whose involvement is being alleged and state-appointed officials involved,” said Gwede.
Chenayi Mutambasere, a development economist said the response was obvious and challenged the government to take allegations seriously.
However, she suggested that a better statement would have come from a regulatory perspective outlining steps to stop future losses.
“So this statement by and large summarizes what we already know. It’s shocking and the government should take it seriously.
“What the world and Zimbabweans are looking for is incisive steps to arrest the porosity of our mining ecosystem, so that the costs of gold extraction be it labour costs or even environmental costs are outweighed by the benefit through revenues and royalties.
“The documentary has instead shown us that gold is being sold below market value and expropriated to Dubai and the proceeds banked in Dubai.
“Living Zimbabwe with nothing more than shells and whistles to show for gold extraction.
“A statement must be shared from a Regulatory of mining and transaction monitoring perspective.
“Announcing tactical steps towards closing the illicit flow gap now and in the future,” she said.
Tafadzwa Chikumbu, the director of Transparency International Zimbabwe has called on the government to deal with impunity.
“TI Z wishes to reiterate its position that the government of Zimbabwe should strengthen mutual legal assistance with other involved jurisdictions to facilitate the exchange of information.
“Law enforcement, anti-corruption agencies and regulatory authorities should immediately revoke gold trade and export licenses given to the implicated individuals and corporations, pending an investigation into the allegations,” he said.
Late last week, a few days after the Gold Mafia episode 3 was released the Herald reported that accounts and assets of Ewan McMillan, Kamlesh Pattni, Uebert Angel, and Simon Rudland had been frozen pending investigations.