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Zimbabweans outraged by Al Jazeera exposé on gold smuggling elite

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BY CHRIS MURONZI

Revelations of gold smuggling by individuals affiliated with Zimbabwean government officials and the ruling party in an Al Jazeera documentary have triggered outrage in the country.

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The four-part documentary titled The Gold Mafia was filmed by Al Jazeera’s Investigative Unit (I-Unit), based on dozens of undercover operations spanning three continents and thousands of documents.

It exposed how huge amounts of gold are clandestinely smuggled every month from Zimbabwe, Africa’s sixth-largest gold producer, to Dubai in the United Arab Emirates, aiding money laundering through an intricate web of shell companies, fake invoices and paid-off officials.

Uebert Angel, presidential envoy and ambassador-at-large to Europe and the Americas since March 2021, was secretly filmed bragging that he could move $1.2bn easily, due to his diplomatic immunity.

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Other individuals filmed or named in the documentary as being part of smuggling rings include Zimbabwe Miners Federation President Henrietta Rushwaya – believed to be the niece of President Emmerson Mnangagwa – and Kamlesh Pattni, a businessman previously involved in a gold smuggling scandal in Kenya.

Pattni, who “knighted” Robert Mugabe as King of Kings in March 2012, handing over a black gown and gold crown to the late leader, still has strong connections to the ruling party.

In October 2020, Rushwaya was arrested at the Harare airport for attempting to smuggle gold to Dubai. Her case is still in court but the National Prosecuting Authority has said there is not enough evidence for a conviction.

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In Zimbabwe, the film’s revelations have caused an uproar.

Illicit trade in gold has long been estimated to cost Zimbabwe an estimated $100m every month, according to official estimates.

The country is reeling from years of economic mismanagement that have resulted in high inflation and unemployment. According to figures from the World Bank, half of the country’s estimated 16 million people live in extreme poverty – on $30 or less monthly.

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There have been widespread allegations of endemic corruption impacting the economy and government critics say the documentary has once again exposed the level of graft in Zimbabwe.Offline reactions

Zimbabweans have called for swift justice against the individuals implicated in the film.

Angirayi Moyowatidhi, a 45-year-old street vendor in Harare expressed outrage at what he said was organised looting of the country’s resources.

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“When we were growing up, we were told of how the colonial regime of Cecil John Rhodes to Ian Smith looted our country’s resources and externalised them to the United Kingdom. Now, we are witnessing the same processm save for the fact that this is being done by our elected Black leaders,” Moyowatidhi told Al Jazeera.

“The people who are involved in gold smuggling and breaking the country’s laws to profit from gold must be arrested no matter their stations and positions in life,” Gift Gadza, a 29-year self-employed youth in Harare, told Al Jazeera.

“Ordinary people like me are suffering while other people are living pretty from gold looting. I think we need to unite as people and protest against the looting of resources in the country,” Gadza said.

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Chris Mutsvangwa, spokesman for the ruling Zimbabwe African National Union–Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF), blamed the West for attempting to foment public anger through the documentary.

“The country’s detractors, who coalesced around George Soros and his Open Society Institute of Southern Africa are clearly miffed and terribly disappointed that Zimbabwe has reverted to and resurrected gold as the reference anchor of the US Dollar,” said Mutsvangwa in a statement.

“Countries under sanctions have to find ways of circumventing the sanctions,” government spokesman Nick Mangwana said in a tweet, drawing widespread criticism from users. “This may mean having to procure supplies through third parties or sell in grey market.”

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Online reactions

Anger online led to the scandal becoming a trending Twitter story in the country since Friday.

“The #Aljazeeradocumentary exposes the extent of the rot at the top, but it’s just the tip of the iceberg,” Nelson Chamisa, leader of the main opposition, the Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) tweeted. “This clearly shows how corrupt, rotten & broken leadership has destroyed a jewel and great country. Zimbabwe is not poor, it’s just poorly governed!”

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Trevor Ncube, a longtime critic of the Zimbabwean government and former publisher of South Africa’s Mail & Guardian, said Mnangagwa should have addressed the allegations already.

“Silence is not an option,” Ncube tweeted.

Some have called on Mnangagwa to fire Angel.

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“Emmerson Mnangagwa is the criminal surrounding Zimbabwe. We call on all patriotic Zimbabweans to join us in our call for the President to step down. This is not about Ubert but his employer the number 1. To the Police, Soldiers this message is for you too,” Team Pachedu tweeted.

 

Some of those fingered in the documentary have denied the charges.

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“The reality is that the Ambassador has never traded in gold or moved cash for anyone,” a statement from Angel said, challenging anyone with evidence to the contrary to come forward. “It is clear from the documentary that Ambassador Angel and his team were never shown trading gold.

“These utterances [in the documentary] were made with the aim of getting the true picture of these fake investors and it became clear that the intelligence operatives were 100% correct,” it added-AL JAZEERA

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Gastronomy takes center stage as Victoria Falls hosts UN tourism forum

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BY BAYANDA NKATHA

Victoria Falls is set to host the inaugural United Nations Tourism Regional Forum on Gastronomy for Africa this week, a first for the continent.

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The Ministry of Tourism and Hospitality Industry expects around 10 000 attendees, particularly on the first day, which will feature an official opening ceremony presided over by President Mnangagwa on Friday.

The conference, taking place at Elephant Hills Golf Course, will then proceed with delegates from around the world.

Zimbabwe was chosen to host the forum in recognition of first lady Auxilia Mnangagwa’s efforts to promote gastronomy tourism through her cookout competition and humanitarian work with the Angel of Hope Foundation.

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This event offers Victoria Falls the opportunity to showcase its capacity for hosting large events, as it has done in the past, and allows locals to benefit from the tourism value chain.

A UN Tourism technical delegation visited Victoria Falls two months ago and was impressed by the city’s readiness.

Tourism Minister Barbara Rwodzi confirmed that preparations are almost complete, saying, “We are ready, with preparations at 98%, and look forward to hosting the event.”

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The forum aims to empower local communities to participate in the tourism sector and benefit from the value chain.

Notably, Victoria Falls co-hosted the UN World Tourism Organisation Summit with Zambia’s Livingstone City in 2013.

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Health ministry grapples with malaria, diarrhea, and dog bite cases

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BY NOKUTHABA DLAMINI 

According to the latest Disease Surveillance Report released by the Ministry of Health and Child Care in Zimbabwe, the country is facing a significant burden of three major health issues: malaria, common diarrhea, and dog bites.

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Malaria cases on the rise

In the week ending July 7, 2024, Zimbabwe reported 476 new malaria cases and two deaths. The majority of the cases (79) were children under the age of five. Mashonaland Central and Manicaland provinces were the hardest hit, with 205 and 118 cases, respectively. Cumulatively, the country has recorded 31,757 malaria cases and 57 deaths.

Diarrhea cases continue to soar

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The report also indicates that 6,520 common diarrhea cases and two deaths were reported in the same week. The deaths occurred in Harare Province and Mbire District in Mashonaland Central Province. Children under five accounted for 2,930 of the reported cases. Mashonaland West and Mashonaland East provinces reported the highest number of cases, with 933 and 930 cases, respectively. Cumulatively, Zimbabwe has recorded 175,551 diarrhea cases and 60 deaths.

Dog bites on the increase

Furthermore, 486 dog bite cases were reported, with no fatalities. Notably, 104 of the cases involved bites from vaccinated dogs, while 115 involved unvaccinated dogs, and 266 involved dogs of unknown status. Masvingo Province and Mashonaland East Province reported the highest number of dog bite cases, with 82 and 81 cases, respectively. Cumulatively, the country has recorded 14,093 dog bite cases.

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The Ministry of Health and Child Care urges citizens to take preventive measures to mitigate the spread of these diseases.

For malaria, this includes using insecticide-treated bed nets, wearing protective clothing, and eliminating breeding sites for mosquitoes.

To prevent diarrhea, the ministry recommends practicing good hygiene, drinking clean water, and seeking medical attention if symptoms persist.

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Regarding dog bites, the ministry advises people to avoid stray dogs, ensure their pets are vaccinated, and seek medical attention immediately if bitten.

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Parliamentary committee tours NRZ properties to assess infrastructure and identify solutions

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NRZ officials and MPs prepare to tour the Victoria Falls Bridge

BY STAFF REPORTER

The Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Transport and Infrastructure Development, chaired by Knowledge Kaitano, has rounded a tour of National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ) properties across the country.

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The committee aimed to assess the state of infrastructure and identify areas for improvement.

NRZ, a state-owned parastatal, owns several properties beyond its railway business, including some that are leased to private entities.

The tour began in Bulawayo and proceeded to Dete, Hwange, and Victoria Falls on Friday, where the committee visited the Victoria Falls Hotel, Victoria Falls Bridge, NRZ station, and Landela Complex and rounded it off on Saturday.

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Kaitano emphasized the importance of the tour, stating, “In the past two days, we’ve seen things we don’t just want to highlight, but we want to walk with you to close the gaps,” he said.

“NRZ is not just a management or board issue; it’s everybody’s issue. We’ve seen the assets you have, and we’ve already established areas of deliberation.”

Mike Madiro, NRZ board chair, highlighted the entity’s critical role in logistics as the government implements the National Development Strategy 1 towards achieving an Upper Middle Income Society by 2030. “We have challenges, no doubt about that.We need to provide logistics solutions to the country’s agenda. Logistics is key to the government’s agenda, and NRZ is important to achieving that agenda.”

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