Zimbabwe on Tuesday said it will investigate allegations of gold smuggling and money laundering against some people linked to the country’s President Emmerson Mnangagwa, which were raised in a documentary produced by Qatar-based broadcaster Al Jazeera.
The ‘Gold Mafia’, a four-part documentary that first aired early this month, alleges that syndicates with close links to government institutions and officials use Zimbabwe’s gold for money laundering.
Undercover Al Jazeera investigative journalists recorded alleged leaders of the syndicates, including President Mnangagwa’s special envoy to 85 countries Ubert Angel, offering to facilitate the dirty deals.
Zimbabwe’s Information Minister Monica Mutsvangwa told journalists in Harare that the country’s government had already launched an investigation into the allegations.
“Zimbabwean government has taken the allegations raised in this documentary seriously and directed the country’s security authority to investigate the matter,” Mutsvangwa said.
“Any person found to have engaged in these acts of corruption and fraud will face the full wrath of the law,” she added.
Zimbabwe has vast gold reserves with the precious metal accounting for about a third of the country’s exports last year.
However, previous investigations revealed that most of the gold produced in Zimbabwe is smuggled out for sale in places such as Dubai.
Gold worth $1.5b smuggled
A 2020 report by the International Crisis Group (ICG) said gold worth $1.5 billion was smuggled out of Zimbabwe every year by syndicates linked to political elites.
The Al Jazeera journalists, who posed as foreign criminals desperate to launder billions of dollars through the sale of Zimbabwe’s gold abroad, secretly recorded Angel offering to facilitate the deals.
Angel is also the founder of a United Kingdom-based church.
They also recorded licenced gold dealers, security officials and employees at the Robert Mugabe International Airport describing how the syndicates operate.
The first two episodes of the documentary aired in March while two more will be broadcast this month.
Government claims no involvement
Mutsvangwa said Zimbabwe’s government had nothing to do with gold smuggling after those implicated claimed to have been part of a sanction-busting operation.
“Zimbabwean government takes this opportunity to reaffirm its commitment to upholding local and international laws; including laws relating to financial transactions, the trade of gold and other precious minerals,” she said.
“Boastful behaviour and name-dropping by some personalities featured in the documentary seeking personal gain and glory, should never be taken as an enunciation of government policy. The government remains seized with the matter and the nation will be kept apprised of any new developments,” she added.
Before Al Jazeera started airing the documentary last month, Zimbabwe’s central bank described the claims made in the documentary as
"false allegations" that were being used to tarnish the image of the country.