President Ruto’s Zim Visit Marred by Photo with Convicted Money Launderer, Wicknell Chivayo
27 April 2024
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By Luke S Banda | Legal Correspondent | ZimEye | In a controversial turn of events during Kenyan President William Ruto’s recent visit to Zimbabwe, a photograph capturing him alongside Zimbabwe’s notorious money launderer, Wicknell Chivayo, has sparked widespread criticism and raised questions about the implications of such associations for political and business relations in the region.

President Ruto’s visit, intended to strengthen diplomatic and trade ties, was overshadowed by the presence of Chivayo, who has a well-documented history of legal troubles, including a conviction and a three-year sentence in Chikurubi Maximum Prison for money laundering activities.

Wicknell Chivayo with President Ruto and Emmerson Mnangagwa

His involvement in high-profile luxury car purchases is currently under scrutiny in ongoing money laundering audits. Moreover, the government of Lesotho has expelled him for falsely claiming that his wealth originates from supplying oil to the country—a claim he asserted involved supplying three million liters of oil per week.

The incident occurred under the watch of Zimbabwean security details during a photo opportunity arranged by Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s team. This inclusion of Chivayo, a non-state actor, in such high-level diplomatic settings not only compromises the perceived integrity of the visiting states but also reflects poorly on Mnangagwa’s administration, according to business commentator Brighton Musonza.

Musonza criticized Mnangagwa’s decision to allow Chivayo’s presence as “breathtakingly shocking” and indicative of a leadership style that personalizes presidential functions to the extent of merging state affairs with personal and familial interests. He noted, “Mnangagwa has brought the office of the President and the State into disrepute. His arrogance of him imposing @wicknellchivayo, a none state figure into the state is breathtakingly shocking.”

The event lacked the presence of Zimbabwean cabinet ministers, featuring only Mnangagwa, Chivayo, his sons, and numerous security details, further emphasizing the personal over the official. Such arrangements have reportedly deterred other African leaders from visiting Zimbabwe, as noted by Musonza, who mentioned that Ruto himself was hesitant and arrived in the country later than scheduled.

Opposition leader Nelson Chamisa commented on the issue, stating that Mnangagwa has unduly personalized the presidency, treating state events as private family gatherings. This approach not only undermines the formal stature of state occasions but also potentially exploits these platforms for personal gain.

The controversy extends to Chivayo’s professional claims, which remain unsupported by any significant business operations or corporate endorsements. His presence at state functions is seen not just as a personal favor but as a strategic maneuver by Mnangagwa to enhance his transactional leadership style, where luxury and loyalty intertwine in the shadows of multimillion-dollar regional business dealings.

This incident raises significant concerns about the implications for international trust and cooperation, with potential ramifications for both domestic and foreign policy fronts. As the details of this association continue to unfold, the focus remains on how both Zimbabwean and Kenyan leadership will navigate the fallout of this diplomatic misstep.

The controversy involving President William Ruto’s photograph with the notorious figure during his visit to Zimbabwe could potentially have implications under various Kenyan and international laws. Here are some of the laws and legal principles that may come into play:

### Kenyan Laws
1. Leadership and Integrity Act (2012) – This Act stipulates the conduct expected of public officials in Kenya, emphasizing integrity, honesty, and responsibility. Any perceived associations with criminal elements can be seen as contrary to the values upheld by this Act.

2. Anti-Corruption and Economic Crimes Act (2003)** – Under this law, public officials are expected to avoid any conduct that would be detrimental to the economic interests of Kenya or that would align them with economic crimes, including money laundering.

3. Public Officer Ethics Act (2003) – This Act sets out the ethical standards for public officers, requiring them to maintain behavior that avoids any conflict of interest and preserves public confidence in public institutions.

4. Foreign Relations and Diplomatic Immunities – Although not a single codified law, various statutes govern the conduct of Kenyan officials abroad and the country’s diplomatic relations, focusing on upholding the nation’s image and interests on the international stage.

### International Laws and Agreements
1. United Nations Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC) – Kenya, as a signatory, is bound by the provisions of UNCAC, which includes measures against corruption, including bribery and money laundering. These provisions extend to actions and behaviors of state leaders that could compromise the country’s commitment to fighting corruption.

2. African Union Convention on Preventing and Combating Corruption – This regional agreement obligates member states, including Kenya, to adopt effective measures to combat corruption and promote integrity among their leaders.

3. International Standards on Combating Money Laundering and the Financing of Terrorism & Proliferation (The Financial Action Task Force – FATF Recommendations)** – As a member of the global financial system, Kenya is influenced by FATF recommendations designed to prevent money laundering and terrorist financing, which includes monitoring politically exposed persons (PEPs).

### Potential Implications
The implications of the controversy could range from diplomatic tensions between Kenya and other nations to internal political repercussions for President Ruto, especially concerning public perception and trust. Legal proceedings or investigations might be initiated if there is perceived breach of any of the above statutes, affecting both the presidency and the broader political landscape in Kenya.

It’s also important to note that any legal repercussions would depend heavily on the specifics of the incident, any direct involvement, and the outcomes of any subsequent investigations. The integrity and transparency with which the situation is handled by Kenyan authorities would also play a crucial role in shaping the legal and political outcomes.