The United States government has imposed targeted sanctions on Zimbabwean businessman Kudakwashe Tagwirei and his company Sakunda Holdings allegedly linked to some corrupt activities said to be tied to the first family.
In a statement, U.S Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the imposition of sanctions against Tagwirei and Sakunda Holdings demonstrates to the government and people of Zimbabwe that the U.S. will not tolerate public corruption or hesitate to take action to promote accountability for perpetrators of public corruption.
“Two years ago, Zimbabwean authorities launched a violent crackdown against citizens who were protesting flawed elections. That same government has yet to hold anyone accountable for the six protestors who were killed that day. To mark the anniversary of their deaths, today the United States is taking action to fight corruption in Zimbabwe.
“Pursuant to Executive Order (E.O.) 13469, the United States is imposing sanctions against Kudakwashe Regimond Tagwirei, a notoriously corrupt Zimbabwean businessman, for materially assisting senior Zimbabwean government officials involved in public corruption. Sakunda Holdings was also sanctioned for being owned or controlled by Tagwirei.”
According to Pompeo, Tagwirei “has longstanding ties to the ruling party in Zimbabwe and high-level governmental officials, including President Emmerson Mnangagwa and First Vice President Constantino Chiwenga, who were listed in the Annex to E.O. 13288 in March 2003. He has used his relationships to gain state contracts and receive favored access to hard currency, including U.S. dollars, especially in the Mnangagwa era.”
A successful businessman, Tagwirei has long been connected with Zimbabwe’s ruling ZANU-PF party and top officials, such as President Mnangagwa and First Vice President Constantino Chiwenga. Both individuals have been subject to previous sanctions and retain spots on the U.S. Treasury’s List of Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons, a compilation of individuals who have been targeted by various sanctions programs.
According to his profile on Sakunda Holdings’ website, Tagwirei sits on the National Procurement Board for Zimbabwe’s oil supply industry, in addition to serving as the company’s chief executive officer.
A report commissioned by the Zimbabwean government in 2019 found that Tagwirei and his associates could not account for at least $3 billion dispensed to the Command Agriculture program, a state farm subsidy financed by Sakunda Holdings and supported by Mnangagwa, the Treasury Department says.
Zimbabwe has been thrust into turmoil in recent weeks, as citizens emboldened by the #blacklivesmatter movement take to the streets to protest human rights abuses and a lack of government assistance as the economy falters during the coronavirus pandemic.
Several activists, authors and civilians have been arrested. The government contends the protests are being orchestrated by foreign governments and opposition leaders in an attempt to destabilize the nation.
Under the new sanctions, all property and interests of Tagwirei and Sakunda Holdings that are in the U.S. or under the control of U.S. nationals must be blocked and reported to the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control.
Tagwirei was unavailable for comment as he was not responding to calls on his mobile phone.
The Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control on Wednesday also removed from the sanctions list a deceased person, John Bredenkamp, and associated entities who were previously designated under E.O. 13469.
“This action ensures the sanctions list remains up to date and targets actors who actively undermine democracy in Zimbabwe. The United States supports a stable and democratic Zimbabwe …”