President Emmerson Mnangagwa has declared war on banks reportedly linked to a cartel behind illegal currency activities and the chaos in the economy, it has been learnt.
Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) governor John Mangudya on Monday suspended four senior officials on suspicion that they were behind the flooding of foreign currency and ordinarily cash on the black market.
Now Mnangagwa’s anti-corruption drive has been activated, with the special anti-corruption unit set by the President and operating under the National Prosecuting Authority reportedly being tasked to investigate institutions allegedly linked to the scam.
“The banks have some explaining to do. These transactions were done through banks and it should be very easy to trace them. The banks received money from the RBZ purportedly on behalf of their clients, now it’s time they prove how it was disbursed,” an official said.
Acting Prosecutor-General Kumbirai Hodzi could only say: “There are things we are working on now. I will talk to you when we are ready.”
Mangudya suspended RBZ director (bank supervision) Norman Mataruka, Azvinandawa Saburi (director financial markets), Mirirai Chiremba (director financial intelligence) and head of security Gresham Muradzikwa for an indefinite period.
This followed a social media rant by former Finance ministry communications taskforce chairperson William “Acie Lumumba” Mutumanje that the officials had literally “captured the State” with assistance from senior Zanu PF officials and a business person with links to the petroleum industry known as “Queen B”.
Mutumanje said the officials were behind crimes ranging from off-the-books bond notes to corrupt allocation of foreign currency on the illicit currency exchange market.
Top Zanu PF officials are said to be the political muscle behind the nefarious activities, but party secretary for administration Obert Mpofu said they did not have any details regarding the issue.
“This is an internal matter within the Finance ministry and we are not getting involved. We do not have any details and until such time the claims (by Lumumba) are proven, we will treat this as anything we read in the media,” Mpofu said.
Zanu PF spokesperson Simon Khaya Moyo said the ruling party’s politburo was likely to get a brief on the matter when it meets today.
“We are likely to be briefed about the issue on Thursday; you know we are going to have our politburo and central committee (meeting). I am not saying this issue is on the agenda, but government is most likely going to apprise the party,” Moyo said.
While reports have claimed Mnangagwa visited the RBZ twice in one day on September 17, insiders this week told NewsDay the President was physically at the apex bank at least four times last month.
“After the first visit, the President when he was at the bank twice on September 17, there has been other visits. These visit have resulted in the situation we have now (suspensions),” a source said.
Mangudya yesterday confirmed an investigation was underway at the RBZ, but would not be drawn into saying much amid claims there is a push for a forensic audit.
“We issued a statement and we stick to that. There is an investigation underway, maybe your sources are confusing that with a forensic audit. They are similar but different,” Mangudya said.
He said contrary to social media speculations, the RBZ board had been briefed about the suspension of the top central bank officials.
“I do not want to deal in fake news. It seems some people have more information than I have. But I can tell you that indeed the board was informed of the suspensions,” the RBZ chief said.