Big names turned down Zimbabwe externalisation amnesty

Emmerson Mnangagwa speaks during an interview in Harare, on Jan. 18. Photographer: Waldo Swiegers/Bloomberg

JOHANNESBURG – The Zimbabwean government accused auditing firm Ernst and Young, Unilever South East Africa and Boc Gases Zimbabwe of externalising $35000 (R418070), $315000 and $55000 respectively.

The companies appeared on the list of individuals and corporates that officials claimed had refused to heed a three month-amnesty to return the funds.

The government also named Metallon Gold for “spurious” cash deposits in foreign banks of large amounts of $25million and 13m pula. The companies were not immediately available for comment. They are not the first that authorities have identified for alleged financial impropriety.

“The authorities have no other recourse to cause these entities and individuals to respond other than to publicise the names of the entities and individuals so that the concerned parties take heed on the importance of good corporate governance and the legal obligations and to ensure that those responsible for such illicit financial flows are brought to justice,” President Emerson Mnangagwa said.

The government said only $591m of the $1.4billion estimated had been returned to the country.

Other companies that were also named include diamond miner Canadile Mining ($31.3m), Marange Resources ($54.2m) and Jinan Mining ($11m).

Others are Mutare Bottling, which holds a bottling and distribution licence for Coca-Cola soft drinks in Eastern Zimbabwe, Simbisa Brands, African Sun, which operates city and resort hotels in Zimbabwe, and Sino Zimbabwe Cement.

Some of the companies had partnerships with Zimbabwe government entities, with former President Robert Mugabe accusing the gem firms of looking as much as $15bn from the country’s diamond mining operations.

“Entities and individuals listed ignored and/or neglected the amnesty by failing to account for the funds indicated as having been kept outside the country in respect of unrepatriated export proceeds, payments for imports not received in Zimbabwe and funds transferred to foreign banks in cash or under spurious circumstances,” said Mnangagwa.

The release of the list sparked widespread debate on social media platforms where most observers were in disbelief that the list did not include any politicians from Mnangagwa’s new administration.

However, not everyone is excited and enthusiastic about the naming and shaming of those alleged to have externalised funds and assets.

Some have called for caution as the funds may have accrued from export forms that were not submitted to the government, while some of the companies named in the list are no-longer operational.

Pedzisai Ruhanya of the Zimbabwe Democracy Institute described the list as“phoney”. – IOL