The South African publication Daily Maverick has published a new report on the dodgy business dealings of Kudakwashe Tagwirei, Zimbabwe’s richest businessman and a close advisor to President Mnangagwa.
The report is titled ‘Shadows and Shell Games: Uncovering an Offshore Business Empire in Zimbabwe’. It looks at the business manoeuvres Tagwirei uses to tighten his hold on the Zimbabwean economy and increase his reach into other countries in the region, including South Africa and Mauritius.
The report is by The Sentry, an organisation based in Washington which describes itself as ‘an investigative and policy team that follows the dirty money connected to African war criminals and transnational war profiteers and seeks to shut those benefiting from violence out of the international financial system’.
John Prendergast, who co-founded the organisation with the actor George Clooney, said: ‘Zimbabwe has long been victimised by networks rooted in Zanu PF which have undermined the vast promise that the Zimbabwean people and natural resources possessed at independence’.
J R Mailey, its Investigations Director, said ‘whether it is Sudan, Congo, Zimbabwe or South Africa we see the role of offshore enablers – banks, lawyers, and company formation agents – again and again, enabling the looting of Africa’s resources by politically connected cronies. All of them – politicians, cronies and enablers – need to face accountability for what they are doing.’
Tagwirei was added to the US sanctions list last year on the grounds that he ‘and other Zimbabwean elites have derailed economic development and harmed the Zimbabwean people through corruption’. He is said to have used South African businessmen to evade the sanctions and create what he envisaged as ‘one of the biggest companies in Southern Africa’.
The report documents Russian involvement in the business deals as well as the role of the Zimbabwean military in what it called ‘off-budget financing of Zimbabwe’s abusive and partisan military’.
The Sentry alleges that Tagwirei bought out the military’s 50% share in a mining company. ‘Noting the role of the Zimbabwean military in violently suppressed demonstrations and keeping Zanu PF in power, the report argues that parliamentary financial control of any national defence force is a prerequisite to ensure the security sector cannot set and finance its own agenda. Off-budget revenue removes oversight over spending by Parliament and scrutiny bodies such as Zimbabwe’s Auditor-General. It would be troubling if a prominent tycoon accused of corruption purchased a mining company from Zimbabwe’s military . . . ‘
The report concludes ‘the operations of Tagwirei’s network are emblematic of larger, structural problems in Zimbabwe. A select group of politicians, the military, and businesspeople dominate government decision-making with little oversight or scrutiny. Key information about public finances remains shrouded in secrecy. An environment of impunity prevails. Left unaddressed, these dynamics will likely become further entrenched.’
It calls for a ‘co-ordinated strategy to counter state capture, involving the US, the UK, the EU, and the World Bank (see: https://www.dailymaverick.co.za/article/2021-07-01-dismantling-zimbabwes-kleptocracy-report-lifts-lid-on-kuda-tagwireis-offshore-dealings-and-sanction-avoiding-strategies/ and ‘The Offshore Hive of Zimbabwe’s Queen Bee, https://www.ft.com/content/af8f3546-1b9b-40f1-afb1-5e7ce3b011da).
- China’s biggest bank, Industrial and Commercial, is reported to have abandoned its plan to finance a US$3 billion coal-fired power plant in Zimbabwe. The Zimbabwean firm Rio-Zim has been trying to build the plant for over ten years and, with many banks now refusing to finance coal, its chances are now seen as slim (see: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2021-06-30/biggest-china-bank-walks-away-from-3-billion-zimbabwe-coal-plan).
- The Chinese Embassy in Harare has accused the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions of damaging bilateral relations. Last month the ZCTU publicised details exposing what it described as slave-like working conditions at the Norton-based ceramic tiles manufacturer, Sunny Yi Feng (see: https://bulawayo24.com/index-id-news-sc-local-byo-205656.html).
- In her latest letter from Zimbabwe, Cathy Buckle paints a vivid picture of the country’s shattered economy (see: https://www.biznews.com/africa/2021/07/02/zimbabwe-dollar-cathy-buckle).
- Because of the coronavirus we can no longer physically meet outside the Zimbabwe Embassy in London, so we have a virtual Vigil while the restrictions continue. We ask our activists to put on Vigil / ROHR / Zimbabwe regalia and take a photo of themselves holding an appropriate poster reflecting our protest against human rights abuses in Zimbabwe. The photos are uploaded on our Flickr site: https://www.flickr.com/photos/zimbabwevigil/albums/72157719495055584. Our virtual Vigil activists today were Jacob Mandipira and Grace Munyanyi who both kindly contributed to Vigil funds.
- For Vigil pictures check: http://www.flickr.com/photos/zimbabwevigil/. Please note: Vigil photos can only be downloaded from our Flickr website.
- The Restoration of Human Rights in Zimbabwe (ROHR) is the Vigil’s partner organisation based in Zimbabwe. ROHR grew out of the need for the Vigil to have an organisation on the ground in Zimbabwe which reflected the Vigil’s mission statement in a practical way. ROHR in the UK actively fundraises through membership subscriptions, events, sales etc to support the activities of ROHR in Zimbabwe. Please note that the official website of ROHR Zimbabwe is http://www.rohrzimbabwe.org/. Any other website claiming to be the official website of ROHR in no way represents us.
- The Vigil’s book ‘Zimbabwe Emergency’ is based on our weekly diaries. It records how events in Zimbabwe have unfolded as seen by the diaspora in the UK. It chronicles the economic disintegration, violence, growing oppression and political manoeuvring – and the tragic human cost involved. It is available at the Vigil. All proceeds go to the Vigil and our sister organisation the Restoration of Human Rights in Zimbabwe’s work in Zimbabwe. The book is also available from Amazon.
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