ALEXANDER James, a member of Al Jazeera’s Investigative Unit (I-Unit) and co-producer of The Gold Mafia exposè has dispelled claims they deliberately played into Zanu PF factionalism by not mentioning Vice President Constantino Chiwenga’s role in the pillaging of Zimbabwe’s gold.
Speaking at the Africa Investigative Journalism Conference (AIJC), currently underway at Wits University in South Africa, James said all evidence gathered by I-Unit pointed to President Emmerson Mnangagwa being at the centre of the looting.
The Gold Mafia was an earth-shattering investigative documentary on how Zimbabwe’s gold was being smuggled out of the country by senior public office bearers who included Mnangagwa’s Special Ambassador to the Americas and Europe Uebert Angel.
It was a four-and-a-half-year investigation that was eventually dismissed by the government as a ploy to tarnish Zimbabwe’s image despite video evidence of runners, confessions by Harare International Airport employees and confessions by Angel on how they were conducting their shoddy business.
“All evidence did not flow to Chiwenga, we focused on the loops we felt we could confidently demonstrate very clearly,” said James.
“In our case, they flowed to number one, that is not to say there is nothing on Chiwenga. It is just that the evidence we had pointed in one direction.”
Sources within ruling Mnangagwa’s faction of Zanu PF interpreted the Al Jazeera documentary as being a sponsored attack by a rival camp led by Chiwenga within the party seeing as it came as Zimbabwe prepared for August’s General Elections.
First Lady Auxillia was recorded advising Angel to get in touch with Mnangagwa to facilitate the laundering of millions in US dollars while one of the self-proclaimed Prophet’s partners also assured I-Unit’s undercover team ‘they would be treated like royalty as long as they oiled the wheels’ which was interpreted as a bribe.
Angel dismissed the whole investigation, arguing he already knew he was being recorded and was simply playing along.
He questioned whether anyone would have thought getting to Mnangagwa was that easy.
Angel had put a US$200,000 bribe, which included his facilitation fees, for the I-Unit to meet with Mnangagwa.
“I think if there was ever any doubt, all that was gone by the end when that was done. There were no longer any code names of Number One (Mnangagwa) and principal (Angel), it was ‘the President needs the money, we have told him it is coming and if it is not we are in trouble,” said co-producer Sarah Yeo.
Yeo and James delivered, at the ongoing conference, an insight into how they conducted the investigation which stretched as far as South Africa, Dubai and China.
The AIJC is Africa’s biggest gathering of investigative journalists, partners and support organisations, with the idea of building partnerships, ensuring sustainability and skills sharing. – NewZim