Joice Mujuru, who is reportedly behind the dirty gold and blood diamonds deals that were exposed in the international press last week, has been appointed acting president of Zimbabwe, making it possible for her to use her executive office to push through the deals before police get on the case.
Her appointment coming after Mugabe cut short a visit to the Far East and aborted his planned visit to Russia, also shows increasing instability in the government, with talk of a planned coup that has been suppressed.
Zimbabwean ministers and generals have been implicated in the plunder of
resources from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) in UN reports, but so far nothing has been done about prosecuting them. This is the first time that evidence has been produced of senior Mugabe officials and their relatives' involvement in dirty deals involving resources from the DRC.
SW Radio Africa station manager Gerry Jackson first exposed the deal and you can listen to the programme here
The website Change Zimbabwe also spoke to a spokesman for Firststar Europe [a company specialising in global distribution and trading of raw materials] who said both the FBI and Interpol had been informed about the dirty deals offered by Nyasha (Mujuru) del Campo (daughter of Joice Mujuru) and her husband, Pedro del Campo.
The deal involved shipping about US $35 million worth of gold nuggets per month to Switzerland for several months - gold that apparently belongs to
several different owners but entrusted to Joice Mujuru and her husband for selling in Europe.
Keep it clean
Vice president Mujuru herself was said to be prepared to finance the
shipment of the 3.7 tonnes of gold, but when Firstar's due diligence
report showed that the gold belonged to 'criminals elements', they decided
not to look into the deal and to expose the criminals as well as blacklist the del Campos\' companies and Mrs Mujuru.
A Firststar executive said Mrs Mujuru herself had threatened him with a 'visit' if he did not remove the company and her name from from the blacklist, but added that he told her that it might be a bit difficult for her to visit him in Europe since she was already prohibited from traveling to Europe.
'We are doing our best to try to keep our trade clean. That is why we are
exposing this. But ultimately it is the authorities to prosecute these
criminals', he said.
Zimbabwe is increasingly coming under the influence of criminals, with Robert Mugabe initially reported to have planned a trip to Russia, possibly to offer resources to the Russians in exchange for their continued protection at the UN.
But speculation is that he also came back to Zimbabwe fearing a coup was in progress, and this was confirmed by the immediate relieving of Joseph Msika as acting president and his replacement by Mrs Mujuru. Other speculation is that he has come back to hold the long-requested meeting with Morgan Tsvangirai of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) over the the MDC's demand that they must share ministerial portfolios equally; a demand which Mugabe had previously refused to entertain.
Firstar have said that the gold it was offered by Nyasha Mujuru through her husband del Campo, is on the embargo list and that the owners are 'criminals'. The criminal element was further exposed, says Firstar when Nyasha said she could easily change the origin of the gold from Congo to Kenya.
'This is obviously very hot and the gold might be offered to other people soon, so we have decided to expose it, but we need help of the authorities to totally put a stop to this syndicate', said the Firstar executive, who also added that he was dismayed that Zimbabwe's people were dying of cholera, which could be treated for a few cents yet the vice-president was planning to stash away millions and millions of US dollars in Europe.
Makusha Mugabe is a Zimbabwe journalist who has worked for The Herald, and also was Editor for the Community Newspapers Group paper, The Chaminuka News. He is now based in England and currently the driving force behind Change Zimbabwe