Press Release / / 04.28.23
April 28, 2023 (Washington, DC) — In the shadow of the quiet military coup that ended Robert Mugabe’s three-decade rule in Zimbabwe, a $120 million mining deal was signed that led to millions being paid to entities linked to the men who would soon become the nation’s new rulers—current President Emmerson Mnangagwa and Vice President Constantino Chiwenga.
A new investigative report by The Sentry, “Spincash Machine,” details a complex web of secret transactions and questionable payments related to the purchase of shares of African Chrome Fields (ACF), a Zimbabwean chrome mining business majority-owned by South African businessman Zunaid Moti, by politically connected Zimbabwean industrialist Kudakwashe Tagwirei. The deal was followed by a money-moving operation in which Moti’s companies paid $130 million in 595 installments to a mix of established firms, unidentified companies, and politically linked entities in Zimbabwe. These payments included $1 million to future President Mnangagwa’s farm and $2 million to a company controlled by a close associate of future Vice President Chiwenga.
Along with the financial transactions linked to Zimbabwe’s president and vice president, The Sentry’s investigation found that George Chiweshe, the judge president of the high court who ruled that the Zimbabwe Defence Forces’ (ZDF) coup was constitutional and paved the way for Mnangagwa’s rise to the presidency, was later paid $100,000 as part of separate, ultimately unsuccessful negotiations to mine chrome on concession areas controlled by a firm he chaired.
Nick Donovan, Investigator at The Sentry, said: “In its search for chrome, the Moti Group flew close to Zimbabwe’s political sun, making payments to the president’s farm, the vice president’s associate, a supreme court judge, the president’s son, and a cabinet minister. The question is: did they get too close? An independent inquiry, led by Zimbabweans, should look into this array of unexplained transactions, including the payment to President Mnangagwa’s farm.”
In response to The Sentry’s questions prior to publication, the Moti Group denied any wrongdoing and described the payments as investment opportunities or loans.
In 2014, Moti purchased 70% of ACF, with the remaining 30% held by the Moti Group holding company Spincash Investments. ACF became a well-connected firm: In 2015 it had hired then-Vice President Mnangagwa’s son as a consultant, formed a joint venture with the ZDF, and was indirectly owned via Spincash Investments by Lishon Chipango, the “investment manager” of then-ZDF commander and future Vice President Chiwenga.
Charles Cater, Director of Investigations at The Sentry, said: “The revelations about the role of the military in the mining sector, particularly at a critical time of political transition in Zimbabwe, highlight the need to get the men with guns out of the national economy. Full civilian control of the military requires full financial control, including the elimination of off-budget sources of funding.”
Key findings from the investigative report:
Read the full report plus access source materials: https://thesentry.
For media inquiries or interview requests, please contact: Greg Hittelman, Director of Communications, [email protected]
About The Sentry
(Short descriptor for press use: “The Sentry, an investigative organization that tracks corruption”)
The Sentry is an investigative and policy organization that seeks to disable multinational predatory networks that benefit from violent conflict, repression, and kleptocracy. Pull back the curtain on wars, mass atrocities, and other human rights abuses, and you’ll find grand corruption and unchecked greed. These tragedies persist because the perpetrators rarely face meaningful consequences. The Sentry aims to alter the warped incentive structures that continually undermine peace and good governance. Our investigations follow the money as it is laundered from war zones to financial centers around the world. We provide evidence and strategies for governments, banks, and law enforcement to hold the perpetrators and enablers of violence and corruption to account. These efforts provide new leverage for human rights, peace, and anti-corruption efforts.