President Emmerson Mnangagwa seemingly sensing his imminent boot from power, is allegedly involved in grand looting of the country’s scarce foreign currency coffers and resources using his chain of hired private jets to secure financial and tax havens abroad, Spotlight Zimbabwe, has been told.
According to a current member of Mnangagwa’s Presidential Advisory Committee (PAC), and a former adviser to his office now based in Mauritius, the ruling Zanu PF leader is reportedly using the luxury private jets, hired by government using taxpayer money, to siphon millions in forex and suspected precious minerals, which the private planes are said to be dropping off at various foreign destinations with trusted security and protection.
The shocking revelations, come on the backcloth of reports last month that Mnangagwa, has had a bitter fallout with his PAC team over confidential information leaks to the press, telling them “to resign from their posts as advisers if they are unable to keep secrets”.
“Don’t get me wrong I’m doing this for Zimbabwe,” said the PAC official who is contemplating to resign. “This country is being looted dry by those at the top using private jets, to smuggle the riches to safe tax and financial havens abroad. It’s an unreported scandal, something I’d like to call ‘JetGate’, because there is a jet for foreign currency looting, and another jet for pilfering precious minerals.”
About 10 000 carats of gem diamonds with an estimated value of US$10m have disappeared at Zimbabwe Consolidated Diamond Company (ZCDC) after the precious stones were reportedly shipped out of the country, to China under the pretext that they were for educational use by students in the Asian country, local publication, Business Times reported in late October.
“Did you know that the president carries a diplomatic pouch, which cannot be searched or seized, under the 1961 Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations,” the PAC adviser said. “Not even the Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) can touch his briefcase or personal luggage, therefore because hand luggage or checked luggage is generally not looked at, the diplomatic pouch offers opportunities for smuggling high-value goods like gold bars, and lots of cash. This is what is happening, and our very own has made more than 40 International trips since he came to power in November 2017.”
Confirming the alleged rampant looting, the Mauritius-based former adviser said a prominent cabinet minister was playing a key role in the tranfer of funds, from state treasury to bank accounts in Europe and Asia.
“I think he is sensing that power is fast slipping away, and that like his predecessor’s before him he has to secure his life and future before losing office,” he said. “A complex web of actors are involved, and a prominent cabinet minister is helping Mnangagwa to offload and transfer the funds to especially Switzerland, Japan and the Middle East namely the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Hong Kong.”
“The main benefits of Swiss bank accounts include the low levels of financial risk and high levels of privacy they offer. The Swiss economy is one of the most stable in the world, and has not been involved in any conflicts in hundreds of years,” states Investopedia, a financial education and empowerment website.
“Furthermore, Swiss law requires that banks have high capital requirements and strong depositor protection, which practically ensures that any deposits will be safe from financial crisis and conflict.”
The Swiss Banking Law of 1934 made it criminal for Swiss banks to disclose the name of an account holder. Similar to the confidentiality protections between doctors and patients or lawyers and their clients, these protections are the primary differentiator that make Swiss bank accounts so popular with banking customers around the world, Investopedia contends.
Mnangagwa has befriended the Crown Prince of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, and is thought to have been offered State protection if the need arises.
Spotlight Zimbabwe, reported in August that Mnangagwa, is said to be plotting to disappear from the country into UAE exile once toppled from power by the military or his own ruling Zanu PF party by June 2020.
There is also speculation that, the Zanu PF leader has bought an exquisite massive beachfront villa in Dubai, where he intends to retire or alternatively use the opulent property as an exile bolthole should he be forced out of power by another coup.
Mnangagwa and government have neither confirmed nor denied the Dubai villa reports.
Last April, National Patriotic Front (NPF) and ex-President Robert Mugabe’s spokesperson Jealousy Mawarire, implicated Mnangagwa in alleged black-market trading of the then surrogate bond notes for the more valuable United States dollar, through a company owned by his son.
Speaking at a panel discussion organised by the Zimbabwe Electoral Support Network (Zesn), Mawarire said Tarirai David Mnangagwa’s company, was being used to ship loads of bank notes and electronic bank balances to street traders in Harare.
“At the Reserve Bank, there is a company Spartan Investments and is owned by Mnangagwa’s son. This is the one that delivers RTGS (Real Time Gross Settlement) balances to street traders,” said Mawarire.
“Those who work at the Reserve Bank know that this company is untouchable. It works with another company called Makanaka Investments belonging to (Antony Clever) Pote who is based in Zvishavane. The person who was caught trying to assist Mnangagwa to flee the country was his son called Tarirai David Mnangagwa who is the chief secretary of Spartan Investments.”
The late Mugabe is also alleged to have siphoned millions abroad using national carrier Air Zimbabwe, mostly to Singapore and Hong Kong.
Reports have also emerged that Mugabe travelled with a stash of coup money, on standby according to The Economist October 2019 edition, highlighting how corrupt African leaders hid their ill-gotten proceeds outside their countries.
Mnangagwa has been hiring a US$30,000-per-hour Swiss luxury jet with a bill of over US$1.7 million, everytime he charters it for International travel and summits. The Swiss jet, a Boeing 767 BBJ, has previously been used by the royal family from oil-rich Saudi Arabia.
Mnangagwa has also been using another lavish private jet from Dubai, which he flies with most of the time. Some reports claim that the jet belongs to Mnangagwa, while he has refuted ownership and maintains, the plane is funded by the Crown Prince of the UAE, who had also pledged to keep it on standby for him as and when he wanted to travel.
Only on Monday this week Mnangagwa was in Dubai, attending the Global Business Forum Africa 2019, organised by Dubai Chamber under the theme “Scale-Up Africa”, and where Mnangagwa concluded by saying, “I say to the world – come and make money here (Zimbabwe), all opportunities are opening up – in agriculture, mining and energy.”
Mnangagwa is the country’s richest man, according to Wikileaks cables wrote in 2001 by a US ambassador, although he did not divulge the wealth in figures. Sources that comprise of the international community, military and business associates suggest that Mnangagwa is worth about US$10.3 Billion.