Deputy News Editor
Belarus businessman Mr Alexander Zingman was released yesterday after police in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) cleared him of potential offences and flying directly to Harare said on arrival he had been in DRC on a legitimate business trip for generating trade in agricultural machinery and his arrest was a set-up to tarnish his image.
In a statement yesterday in Harare, Mr Zingman, who is honorary consul of Zimbabwe in Belarus, said he is a businessman who has previously visited DRC and his recent arrest came as a surprise.
Honorary consuls do not handle diplomatic affairs between countries, but are appointed to help Zimbabweans visiting the country where they live and work, in this case usually business links.
Mr Zingman said his business deals are clean and transparent as he specialises in selling and distributing mining and agriculture equipment.
The 54-year-old owns Aftrade, a company that distributes agricultural and mining equipment in Africa. He was visiting the DRC with Vodchits, the African representative of Aftrade, and Mr Paul Persico for meetings in Lubumbashi.
Mr Perscio is the owner of Super Afro Trading and Perleen International Trading FZE which specialises in fertiliser manufacturing and mining.
Mr Zingman, who was cleared by DRC officials yesterday morning, had spent 12 days in detention.
“I want to make it clear that I am a businessman who was arrested upon my arrival in DRC at Lubumbashi. I had gone for a business meeting with Mr Moise Katumba. Mr Katumba has an agriculture foundation. No other meeting was scheduled in DRC,’’ said Mr Zingman.
“Mr Katumba was also arrested with us and we spent the last 12 days in detention, All our cellphones where confiscated and lines of communication cut. We couldn’t even communicate with our families. It was terrible experience.
“Our arrests were as a result of our enemies trying to victimise our business. However, we are happy that the DRC officials finally cleared us of any wrong doing and we were released yesterday morning,” Mr Zingman said last night.
“I’m still willing to do business in DRC, like in any country, even though I have been a victim of misinformation by enemies.’’
Mr Zingman has been in DRC for two previous visits where he met several business people including the former DRC president J0 the most successful farmer in DRC. My technical team was working with his technical team on agriculture technical expertise. There was no other business discussed with Mr Kabila outside agriculture.”
But it appears that these meetings were what triggered the arrest. Mr Zingman was arrested by Congolese police soon after meeting Mr Kabila.
On his relationship with Zimbabwe, Mr Zingman said it was only premised on business.
“I’m honorary consul of Zimbabwe in Belarus. I’m the one who conducts business activities for the two countries. I’m a businessman doing agriculture and mining in both countries and many African countries.
“I’m not a president of any country or a politician, but all I can say is that President Mnangagwa was invited by the President of Belarus for their bilateral conversation.
“Their meeting had nothing to do with weapons or any other business besides farming machinery and tractors. The agenda of the meeting was fully shown in the media. President Mnangagwa was surprised with the mining system and trucks he saw in Belarus that he wanted engagement between the two countries.”
“The meeting was about mining activities as it has shown impact in the Hwange Colliery. We have supported Zimbabwe in many ways only in mining and farming,’’ he added.
Aftrade has agricultural deals with several African countries including Zimbabwe to provide tractors and other farming machinery, as well as to provide training in modern farming techniques.
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