Zanu PF illicit forex deals exposed

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The view of Harare from my room at the Rainbow Towers Hotel. The tall building to right (about 300 m away) is the headquarters of the ruling party, Zanu PF.

Zanu PF bought its fleet of luxury vehicles and colourful regalia used during last year’s election campaign through a company that was recently blacklisted by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) for allegedly fuelling the illegal trade in foreign currency, it has been revealed.

By Blessing Mhlanga

According to a leaked document authored by Spartan Security protesting the freezing of its bank accounts by the RBZ last month, the firm helped raise as much as US$20 million for Zanu PF to buy cars in 2017 and last year.

Spartan said it facilitated large payments for Zanu PF to suppliers in South Africa, China and Dubai. The document was reportedly authored by Spartan director Luka Fabris. President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s nephew David Mnangagwa, who was one ofSpartan’s founders, is said to have resigned in 2016, but still had close links with the company that has interests in mining and security.

“In May 2017 Spartan began facilitating large payments for Zanu PF party through the then secretary (the late Robert Mugabe),” reads part of the documents in our possession.

“As much as US$20 million worth of predominantely vehicles were paid for in South Africa, through swapping Spartan sourced US dollars cash in Zimbabwe for free funds in South Africa, which was paid to ACH Trading and Lifehouse investments, who in turn supplied 250 vehicles to Zanu PF party.

“Even the governor of the Reserve Bank was aware of our services at the time.”

Spartan said in 2018 it also provided Zanu PF with millions of dollars in foreign currency to buy cars from South Africa. The company also supplied the army, police and government departments with foreign currency.

“In 2018, as the RBZ became less and less able to make foreign payments, the volume of payments facilitated by Spartan Security for government increased further as Spartan took several deals emanating from the Zanu PF party, Zimbabwe Defence Forces and both vice-presidents’ offices,” the document revealed.

Last month, the RBZ froze bank accounts of several companies that were accused of dealing in foreign currency, including Kuda Tagwirei’s Sakunda.

Tagwirei is one of the businessmen that were said to have bought the luxury cars for Zanu PF.

Zanu PF treasurer at the time Obert Mpofu, referred questions to his successor Patrick Chinamasa.

“I am not the treasurer of the party, you have to talk to Cde Chinamasa, he is the one in charge of the books,” he said.

Chinamasa, however, said he was not in a position to comment as he was currently in Botswana where he is part of Zimbabwe’s delegation observing the neighbouring country’s forthcoming elections.

RBZ governor John Mangudya said he was not aware of any deals between the central bank and Spartan.

“The bank is not aware of their transactions. Monitoring of transactions is done by the financial intelligence unit that froze their accounts,” he said.

“They are the best ones to deal with their complaints. The Reserve Bank has never dealt with that company.”

Fabris did not respond to calls yesterday. David Mnangagwa is now part of the president’s close security.

“David Mnangagwa although he resigned as director of Spartan in 2016, remains a lifelong friend,” Fabris said in the document. “He is not the son of President Mnangagwa, but a nephew who currently serves in the president’s personal security detail.”

Mangagwa has in the past decribed people that illegally deal in foreign currency as saboteurs.

The informal trade in foreign currency has been cited by the government and Zanu PF as the reason behind the country’s economic collapse. – Source: The Standard

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