By Alois Vinga
RESERVE Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) governor, John Mangudya has called on the nation not to underestimate the impact of “biased and wild” claims made in snippets of the unscreened Al Jazeerabdocumentary on alleged corruption and money laundering in the country.
The Qatar based international news network brewed controversy after revealing that it was going to broadcast the first episode of ‘Gold Mafia’, a two-year investigation at 12PM CAT last Thursday.
Other episodes were to follow on March 9, 16 and 23.
However, the television station stopped the scheduled flighting of the expose without disclosing reasons.
A trailer however showed some participants giving accounts alleging the RBZ’s involvement in money laundering activities.
Irked by the allegations, Mangudya issued a statement distancing the RBZ from the damaging claims and added that pursuing legal action remains an option should the documentary prove to be peddling fake news.
The move attracted backlash on social media with netizens accusing the governor of foul play.
But speaking to the media on the side-lines of the Zimbabwe Economic Society (ZES) breakfast meeting this week, the governor defended his stance amid calls for citizens not to under-estimate the negative impact of the snippets.
“I am the custodian of the financial system of this country, and the allegations in those small snippets we saw are of money laundering and illicit gold trades. Why am I supposed to sleep comfortably and keep quiet when the house is on fire?”
“I have seen that people are underestimating the effect of such accusations, but they have implications on the anti – money laundering standing of this country,” he said.
The remarks come against a background where Zimbabwe was removed from the grey list of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) in March 2022 after being deemed compliant in upholding the required global anti-money laundering banking standards.
The implication is that currently the country’s financial system is not a terrorism financing conduit.
Mangudya underscored that he is not out to fight Al Jazeera but maintained that he has problems with the sources of information in the documentary.
“The gold is not sanctioned so why should we try to use illicit funds to buy an unsanctioned commodity. The only sanctions we have are ZIDERA and OFAC and none on our trades,” the governor added.