By Alois Vinga
THE Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) has vowed to take legal action against interviewees who participated in an Al Jazeera unscreened documentary allegedly implicating top government officials in illicit gold dealings and money laundering.
The developments come shortly after the Qatar based international news network revealed 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 expóse without disclosing reasons.
In a brief statement, Al Jazeera said: “The report we were planning to release will no longer be released this morning (March 2). Bear with us while a new release time is arranged.”
But reacting to the unscreened documentary reports Monday, RBZ governor, John Mangudya dismissed the film describing it as “sensationally wild, false and malicious media report “ which ignored the 32 responses provided by the central bank.
“The bank is disappointed that either Al Jazeera Investigative Unit has not included the Bank’s responses in the information they have leaked to or shared with their selected media houses and journalists have elected to ignore the Bank’s responses and only published the fake allegations in a malicious pursuit of the hidden agenda, unknown to the Bank or Al Jazeera.
“The Bank reserves its rights to take appropriate legal action to initiate necessary sanctions against the interviewees and purveyors of the fake news to protect its fiduciary responsibilities in the national interests,” he said.
He criticised the documentary for purveying the impression that the Bank is Southern Africa’s laundry service for an alleged African gold mafia involved in illicit gold dealings, corruption and money laundering.
Mangudya said the outrageous reports quote one of the cited individuals as boasting that he has diplomatic cover to fly dirty cash into Zimbabwe where it can be laundered through gold and other investments and another individual is reported to have asserted that there is an opportunity to clean money in Zimbabwe.
He said yet another self-serving claim is that of an individual who bragged that his phone is on speed dial with the Bank’s governor and said it is particularly strange that the reports that “through the bank” government is using illicit ways as a scheme to burst international sanctions placed on political leaders and government entities.
“There are no sanctions on Zimbabwean exports and imports including trade in gold, to warrant Zimbabwe to circumvent international sanctions through illicit trade in gold.
“ As such the claim that there is a scheme to bust international sanctions using illicit ways shows beyond doubt that the peddlers of this narrative have a sinister agenda with nefarious objectives of tarnishing both the bank and the Republic of Zimbabwe,” added Mangudya.
He expressed concerns that “it is also disturbing that “the scurrilous allegations” have been widely and recklessly reported by well-known and outspoken social media activists in Zimbabwe without any verification despite being closer to home.
The central bank boss expressed disappointment that Zimbabweans are at the forefront of spreading malicious falsehoods about the Bank and the country.
“Curiously, the leaked snippets of the unscreened documentary omit the bank’s responses to 32 questions Al Jazeera Investigative Unit posed to the Bank in connection with the allegations.
“In the spirit of transparency and social responsibility the bank responded to all the 32 questions in detail on February 27 2023 and the responses clearly show that the narrative so far purveyed is nothing but false,” said Mangudya.