Harare – Zimbabwe's new leader Emmerson Mnangagwa is targeting funds and assets externalised during president Robert Mugabe's reign after he issued a moratorium on Tuesday for corporates and individuals involved to return the funds to the state by the end of February next year or face prosecution.
Zimbabwe's central bank and other government officials have partly blamed hard currency shortages on externalisation.
Central bank governor John Mangudya said Zimbabwe has become a cheap source of foreign currency.
Leaked papers from Panama law firm Mosack Fonseca last year showed Zimplats CEO Alex Mhembere as well as other executives from Innscor as having been involved in offshore dealings.
Zimplats was also named in the leaked papers for paying management through offshore accounts, but Impala Platinum refuted this, saying it had no knowledge of the offshore company.
Now Mnangagwa has revealed that the Zimbabwean government is going after externalised funds from Zimbabwe through corporate and individual financial activities. This comes as the president announced last Friday that he will have zero tolerance for corruption under his new administration.
Mnangagwa, who was sworn in as Zimbabwe's new president on Friday, hit the ground running by quickly implementing some of the measures that he promised the country in his inauguration speech.
He said: “The liquidity challenges which have bedevilled the economy must be tackled head on, with real solutions being generated as a matter of urgency.
“People must be able to access their earnings and savings as and when they need them,” he said, referring to Zimbabweans who are struggling to access their bank deposits.
“As we focus on recovering our economy, we must shed misbehaviours and acts of indiscipline which have characterised the past. Acts of corruption must stop forthwith.
“Where these occur swift justice must be served to show each and all that crime and other acts of economic sabotage can only guarantee ruin to perpetrators. We have to aspire to be a clean nation, one sworn to high moral standards and deserved rewards,” said Mnangagwa.
True to his promise, Mnangagwa has granted a three-month amnesty for the return of illegally externalised funds and assets.
“Activities linked to Operation Restore Legacy have, among other issues, helped to uncover cases where huge sums of money and other assets were illegally externalized by certain individuals and corporates.
“Needless to say, such malpractices constitute a very serious economic crime against the people of Zimbabwe which the government of Zimbabwe will never condone.
“As a first step towards recovery of the illegally extrenalised funds and assets, the government of Zimbabwe is gazetting a three-month moratorium within which those involved in the malpractice can bring back the funds and assets, with no questions being asked or charges preferred against them.
“The period of this amnesty stretches from December 1 2017, to end of February 2018.
“Upon the expiry of the three-month window, government will proceed to effect arrest of all those who would not have complied with this directive, and will ensure that they are prosecuted in the country’s laws,” said Mnangagwa in a statement.
Former finance minister Ignatius Chombo is already facing corruption charges following Mugabe's resignation.
The Zimbabwe military said this month that it was dealing with criminals around Mugabe when the country’s defence forces intervened, paving the way for a new administration.
There have also been outcries for the government to account for money earned from the country’s alluvial diamond mining operations in the Chiadzwa area.
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