The Emmerson Mnangagwa connected Belarusian businessman, Aliaksandr Zingman was detained on March 19 in Lubumbashi, the second-largest city in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, after a meeting with former president, Joseph Kabila.
Together with him, the security forces took the head of the AFTRADE company office, Aleh Vodchyts, and the Italian entrepreneur Paolo Persico. The wife of the latter confirmed that he was detained, Euroradio reports.
Zingman is not just an ordinary exporter of Belarusian equipment to African countries. He is the honorary consul of Belarus in Zimbabwe, and on trips to Africa, he often accompanies the head of Lukashenka’s Administrative Department Viktar Sheiman.
What is known about the detained Belarusians?
Mass media in several African countries often call Zingman “an adviser to Lukashenka’s aide,” meaning Viktar Sheiman. Together with the head of the Administrative Department, the businessman attended official meetings in Zimbabwe and Zambia.
Zingman and his company AFTRADE are engaged in the sale of Belarusian equipment manufactured by Amkodor, Minsk Tractor Plant, MAZ, and others to African countries. In this market, he works in parallel with Aliaksandr Zaitsau, a long-term partner of Aliaksei Aleksin, and Mikalai Varabei. All of them are called “Lukashenka’s wallets.”
Although, according to local media, Zingman’s interests went far beyond the sale of agricultural and mining activities. So, the Daily Maverick newspaper, citing sources, claimed that Zingman wanted to sell weapons to the former president of the DRC, who has a tense relationship with the current one. Other media outlets write that the reason for the arrest “was an alleged conspiracy of three people to overthrow the Congolese government.”
In 2020, Zingman became interested in doing business in Congo – he wanted to mine jewelry there.
It is worth noting that Zingman does have “not very official” contacts with the “top” of some countries. For example, his informal photo with the President of Zambia with glasses of wine has drawn criticism in the local media and reproaches for possible corruption deals.
According to the Daily Maverick, the United Arab Emirates is trying to “stand up” for Zingman – his company is registered in this country, in another “gray” zone where it is impossible to get intelligible information about someone’s business.
The DRC authorities remain silent, but there is a video of Zingman’s arrest. Behind the scenes, the woman says excitedly: “Ihar, boots!”
The fact of the detention was confirmed by Henadz Masesau, director of the AFTRADE office in Belarus, in a comment to the Italian website Ilsole24ore:
“Mr. Zingman held meetings with local partners in the city of Lubumbashi. At the end of the meeting, when he arrived at the airport and was about to go to Harare, his passport was confiscated. He was placed in a room with two of his colleagues for several hours without the opportunity to sit down, without water, without contact with the outside world.”
Another Belarusian detained by the DRC authorities is Aleh Vodchyts. He is the CEO of AFTRADE and is involved in major negotiations with Zingman.
Unlike the owner of the business, Vodchyts is not such a media person: he appeared several times in the Belarusian media when he worked as deputy head of the Promagroleasing company and almost did not appear in the African media. At the same time, the line Promagroleasing in the resume is also very telling: this organization, which is currently part of the holding of the Development Bank, probably also works with Africa.
There, it actually finances exports from Belarus: it allocates funds to African banks from time to time, which they, in turn, provide to local players for the purchase of Belarusian equipment. In the language of officials, this is called “government support for foreign sales.”- Source Charter97