CENTRAL bank chief Gideon Gono has warned Zimbabweans against taking ‘prophet’ Uebert Angel Mudzanire’s “so-called miracle money” and urged the “man of God” to find other ways of pleasing his followers.
Gono told NewsDay that although he had no intention of getting embroiled in controversies with the “prophet” regarding the “miracle money”, Mudzanire’s activities had the potential to invite international scrutiny on the country.
“All my knowledge and experience to date in matters financial is also at variance with what the men of God are telling their followers and I can safely say that what they are telling people is very dangerous indeed and they must stop it forthwith,” Gono said.
“You cannot just wake up in the morning and say that my account has this much money which I cannot tell where it came from and hope that you can have access to it or escape interrogation by authorities. It’s not possible.”
The central bank boss’ remarks were in response to reports that Mudzanire had left several of his followers rich after they found their bank accounts credited with the “miracle money”.
Others reportedly had cash mysteriously stashed into their pockets while attending his church services in Botswana last October and on New Year’s Eve in Harare.
However, Finance minister Tendai Biti immediately issued a statement casting aspersions over the development and challenged Mudzanire to perform his exploits and raise the $10 billion required to offset the country’s debts to prove his “miracle money” was indeed real.
Added Gono: “It is possible, however, that our men of God are not aware of all these serious earthly laws and could be at risk of breaking them unknowingly, but then, as the saying goes, ignorance of the law is no defence.”
Gono said the “prophets” were not following the norms of sweat, hard work, honesty, opportunity and perseverance in accumulation of wealth.
He warned: “If money is ‘faked’ or counterfeited under whatever disguise, various international conventions and protocols to which all member countries, including Zimbabwe, are signatory to, require that we declare such miraculous money ‘proceeds of money laundering’ and continuing to encourage such practices is a very serious offence under the United Nations Convention on Suppression of Financing of Terrorism (1999),and the Convention Against Transnational Organised Crime, otherwise known as the Palermo Convention.
“In Zimbabwe, three main pieces of legislation govern legitimacy of money and its uses. These are the Bank Use Promotion and Suppression of Money-Laundering Act (Chapter 24:24), the Serious Offences (Confiscation of Profits) Act (Chapter 9:17) and the Suppression of Foreign and International Terrorism Act (Chapter 11:21).”
Gono said the “prophets” should be careful not to cause “or invite unnecessary attention and adverse scrutiny upon the country’s financial systems for whatever reasons by sticking to acceptable, universally acknowledged earthly norms of earning money, enriching themselves and others they are privileged to lead”.
“One suggestion maybe is to emulate the route taken by our Lord Jesus Christ when He fed multitudes of people from five loaves of bread and fish.
“It may not be such a bad idea to do that as food is a basic necessity for all that is visible and fills the tummies of congregants who can, if in need of more food, come back every day or on selected frequencies — a week/month — to the venue(s) of prayer, thereby keeping those who want, out of the misery of hunger and malnutrition,” Gono added.
“We are a country still under illegal sanctions and economic siege and, in any case, where were these miracle men and women of God during the period 1998 to 2008 when some of us were trying every trick in and outside the book to keep this country afloat?”