President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s spokesman George Charamba has threatened to jail journalists for reporting findings of Gold Mafia a documentary by Al Jazeera which exposes gold smuggling operations in Zimbabwe.
In a Twitter post, Charamba said the documentary is defamatory. He said:
FRIENDLY ADVICE TO ALL RECKLESS JOURNALISTS: Al-Jazeera is not a court of law before whose claims impart privileges to defamatory utterances. It is merely some weaponised channel. If you are reckless enough to repeat what its phoney documentary defamatorily says, hoping to plead:
“I heard/saw it on Al Jazeera”, you will be sorry for yourself. Do not for once think there is no grit to act against reckless, defamatory and politically motivated journalism. Faceless Twitter names egging you on will not be a factor when brickbats come. Be warned!
Al Jazeera released the first episode of the documentary titled Gold Mafia on Thursday last week.
The documentary implicates Henrietta Rushwaya (the president of the Zimbabwe Miners Federation), Uebert Angel (the presidential ambassador at large to the Americas and Europe), Simon Rudland (the owner of Gold Leaf Tobacco), Lamkesh Pattni (the owner of Suzan General Trading – a jewellery shop), Fidelity Printers and Refineries and the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (ZIMRA).
The documentary notes that there is a network of individuals who are exporting gold from Zimbabwe in exchange for dirty money from abroad. The money is then cleaned in Zimbabwe. This is said to be a move to bust sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe.
Rushwaya is said to be the one cleaning the dirty money.
Lamkesh Pattni, on the other hand, is allegedly siphoning cash from Zimbabwe in connivance with ZIMRA officials instead of bringing it from gold and jewellery proceeds.
Smuggling in Zimbabwe:
Smuggling is a big problem in Zimbabwe, and it is hurting the country’s economy.
The country is losing billions of dollars because of the illegal trade of goods like gold, tobacco, fuel, and diamonds.
The government estimates that $1.5 billion is lost each year due to gold smuggling and $300 million due to tobacco smuggling. Fuel shortages have also contributed to smuggling, which results in the loss of revenue for the government.
Smuggling creates an uneven playing field for legitimate businesses and can increase crime and corruption.