After Gold Mafia, new investigation exposes corrupt $120m deal; Mnangagwa, Chiwenga, Tagwirei linked to SA tycoon

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By Staff Reporter

  • Leaked documents detail how the controversial businessman courted political influence in Zimbabwe while pushing for often outlandish concessions for himself and his companies.
  • A major $120 million transaction during Zimbabwe’s 2017 coup was followed by payments to companies linked to the post-coup leadership of the country.

HARARE: An independent investigation has exposed a US$120 million-dollar chrome scandal involving President Emmerson Mnangagwa, his deputy Constantino Chiwenga, local tycoon Kuda Tagwireyi and a South African businessman Zunaid Moti, barely weeks after explosive Al Jazeera Gold Mafia revelations.

According to the investigation by the Sentry organisation, the deal was struck on November 17, 2017, during the middle of the week-long coup that brought President Mnangagwa and Vice President Chiwenga to power.

The Sentry is an investigative and policy organization that seeks to disable multinational predatory networks that benefit from violent conflict, repression, and kleptocracy.

The report made revelations that Moti paid $3 million to firms linked to Mnangagwa and Chiwenga following the signing of the US$120 million chrome deal.

“A South African wheeler-dealer fond of fast cars and cigars, Zunaid Moti, dabbled in property development and private jets, but his main business in Zimbabwe was processing chrome.1 In 2014 he bought 70% of African Chrome Fields (ACF), a chrome mining outfit based in central Zimbabwe,” read the report.


According to the Sentry, by 2015, ACF was a well-connected firm and had formed a joint venture with the Zimbabwe Defence Forces (ZDF) and hired then-Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s son as a consultant.

“Businessman Lishon Chipango, identified by a source as then ZDF commander, General Constantine Chiwenga’s ‘investment manager’, indirectly owned shares in ACF via Spincash Investments, a Moti Group holding company that held the remaining 30% of ACF,” the report revealed.

“Moti signed a deal with ruling party benefactor Kudakwashe Tagwirei on November 17, 2017 – in the middle of the week-long coup that brought President Mnangagwa and Vice President Chiwenga to power – in which Tagwirei paid $120 million for Spincash’s 30% of ACF.

Controversial businessman Zunaid Moti

A politically connected industrialist who later became an advisor to Mnangagwa, Tagwirei was the subject of separate corruption allegations relating to a power plant and an agricultural programme at the time of the deal,” the Sentry exposed.

According to the Sentry’s investigations, after Tagwirei’s seizure of Spincash’s 30%, the deal was followed by a money-moving operation in which Moti’s companies paid $130 million in 595 instalments to a mix of established firms, companies whose records are missing, and politically linked entities in Zimbabwe.

In December 2017 and January 2018, the payments included $1 million to Mnangagwa’s farm and $2 million to a company controlled by Chipango and someone reported to be Chiwenga’s niece.

In a separate commercial transaction in February 2018, ACF also paid $100,000 to a senior judge, Justice George Chiweshe, as part of a wider deal to mine chrome in concession areas controlled by a firm he chaired.

Given the timing of the November 17, 2017, according to the investigative report, the deal raises the question of whether there is a connection to the coup.

After Mugabe’s resignation on November 21, Chiweshe – who at the time was judge president of the high court – ruled that the ZDF’s actions were constitutional and annulled the earlier dismissal of Mnangagwa, paving way for the reinstated vice president to ascend to the presidency. Five weeks later, Chiwenga became vice president.

According to the Sentry, for the Moti Group, there are indications that the deal’s timing in the midst of the coup and the payments to some of the coup’s main protagonists were coincidental.

Leaked recordings of Moti Group internal discussions about whether the timing of the deals was linked to the coup reveal staff sincerely stating that there was no connection. The Moti Group denied that they made any payments to politicians,” read the report.

The report revealed that Moti further made a donation towards Zanu PF’s 2018 elections campaign.

“The Moti Group supplied 50 vehicles to Tagwirei for use in Zanu PF’s 2018 election campaign, albeit in what Moti said was a commercial transaction.

“The $1 million payment to Mnangagwa’s farm – which has echoes of the unexplained cash found at South African President Cyril Ramaphosa’s farm – has still not been adequately explained.