- The upcoming documentary reveals corruption connected to elites and political figures.
- The documentary is a two-year investigation by an undercover Al Jazeera crew that infiltrated warring gangs who control Africa's gold.
- According to the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ), the documentary aims to harm its reputation.
The much-hyped and yet-to-be-released Aljazeera investigation into the illegal gold trade and corruption involving wealthy elites and politicians in Zimbabwe has rattled and caused a public relations disaster in the ruling party and among government officials.
Unlike the sanctions narrative peddled by the ruling ZANU-PF, the documentary has compelled the Governor of the Central Bank of Zimbabwe, John Mangudya, to respond and make it clear that the country's targeted sanctions have no impact on the bank or the country’s international trade.
The four-part documentary series is the result of a two-year investigation by an undercover Al Jazeera crew that infiltrated warring gangs that control Africa's gold. Undercover reporters made friends with members of rival gold mafia gangs.
So far, the documentary has been shown to a select group of prominent Zimbabwean journalists. Government officials were seen in snippets of the documentary in a private meeting with Kamlesh Pattni, who had previously been charged in the Goldenberg scandal, which involved the theft of more than a billion dollars from Kenya in the 1990s.
The snippets of the documentary also show Ewan Macmillan, a rival of Pattni and a convicted gold smuggler with connections to the most influential Zimbabwean politicians. In the documentary, he appears to be calling Zimbabwe's vice president, Constantino Chiwenga, who orchestrated the coup against the country's then-president Robert Mugabe in November 2017, a "dunderhead."
When journalists questioned George Charamba, the president's spokesman, he declined to comment on what had not been made public. The documentary has sparked interest across the country, and many Zimbabweans are looking forward to watching it.
Aljazeera had planned to release the documentary last week; however, it was postponed to an unknown later date. "We will no longer be releasing the documentary this morning as planned. "Please be patient as we determine the release time," said Al Jazeera.
The Zanu PF head of information, Tafadzwa Mugwadi, threatened to shut down satellite television in Zimbabwe because of how many Zimbabweans are looking forward to the release of the documentary. He stated that "the Zimbabwean government needs to start blocking foreign channels and prioritize Zimbabwean channels."
Many commentators have referred to Zimbabwe’s central bank as "Southern Africa's laundromat" because it provides the gold mafia a chance to "wash" their money. However, Mangudya has vowed to sue the interview subjects and others whom he has accused of being "purveyors of fake news."
Mangudya declared he was "resolved to defend the bank’s fiduciary responsibilities in the national interest" in light of the Al Jazeera documentary's negative impact on the nation's reserve bank, which significantly relies on public faith.
According to the 2021 Transparency International Corruption Perceptions Index, Zimbabwe was placed 157th out of 180 nations, with a high rating indicating a high perception of corruption in the public sector.
President Emmerson Mnangagwa made a commitment to eradicate corruption when he took office in November 2017, but critics believe he has fallen short.The Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (ZACC), the nation's anti-corruption agency, has frequently been misused as a political tool while failing to produce significant arrests.
One of those who promised the mafia networks a haven for their illicit money claimed to be "on speed dial" with the RBZ governor and suggested there is "a hell of a big opportunity to wash money here in Zimbabwe through buying gold" in the Al Jazeera documentary.
The UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) estimates that Africa loses roughly R5.59 trillion, or 3.7% of its GDP, each year to illegal money flows in its Economic Development in Africa Report 2020.
The most affected nations are those with dubious investors, flimsy governmental structures, poor records on human rights, and a lack of democratic institutions.Gold smuggling is still prevalent in countries like Zimbabwe.
A research from the Centre for Natural Resource Governance (CNRG) claims that 36 tons of gold are allegedly stolen from Zimbabwe every year by people connected to the ruling elite. Sixty percent of the gold produced in Zimbabwe is generated by small-scale miners; they represent the unofficial market, and "float," or money from establishment-connected buyers, is channeled to them. They are the ones who make the money.
Zimbabwe's government attributed its economic downturn to sanctions imposed for over 20 years. Such a dictum has produced a façade behind which many powerful figures assert to be breaking the law in their clandestine transactions.