IMPLICATIONS OF STATE LINKED CRIMINAL SYNDICATES
Zimbabwe has been robbed of potential investment by greedy State security officers, who had been extorting foreign investors by instilling fear in them, after carrying out unsanctioned investigations, NewsDay Weekender has established.
Reports of police officers acting in connivance with their counterparts in the Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) preying on investors have recently spilled into the courts.
On August 18 last year, a Harare court heard that the Chinese Business Association members met the Zimbabwe Republic Police chiefs to raise an official complaint against some rogue elements in the State security system, whom they accused of abusing their powers to extort money from their members.
The meeting heard that the Chinese threatened to pull out of Zimbabwe if the culprits — whom they claimed included senior police officers and CIOs — were not brought to book. Chief Superintendent Nyaradzai Majachani, Superintendent Shepherd Tachiona, Constable Clever Gadzikwa, former special constabulary and CIO informer Delish Nguwaya, Vengai Zano and Mbereki Mbizo Nyathi were named as part of the syndicate terrorising foreign investors.
While testifying in a case in which a Chinese businessman, Baoning Guo, was allegedly forced to part with $20 000 by the syndicate led by Majachani, deputy director in the President’s Office Kizito Gweshe said a decision was taken at the highest level to clean up the system — specifically members of the police and CIO engaging in criminal activities.
Gweshe said efforts to fight corruption in the security system were proving difficult, as the police were failing to bring the syndicate’s kingpins to court, thereby rendering the campaign impotent.
A source who declined to be named told NewsDay Weekender that the syndicate has been operational for some time.
The source said a South African business which was supplying goods and services worth over $10 million every month since 2010, upon entering into a trade deal in the country, suddenly pulled out last year after the known organised syndicate of rogue police officers infiltrated their operations and began to continuously demand bribes to facilitate the SA company’s protection for free operation in the country.
Nguwaya, one of the suspected members of the syndicate, spilled the beans to his bosses while trying to seek immunity from arrest.
He allegedly wrote to former Home Affairs minister Ignatius Chombo and outgoing Police Commissioner-General Augustine Chihuri detailing the modus operandi of the shadowy outfit.
After his arrest, Nguwaya told a Harare magistrate that Majachani would befriend foreign investors, thereby looking into issues pertaining to how they operated their businesses.
He further told the court that after getting the information, Majachani would advise Tachiona, who would subsequently organise a team of rogue officers to prey on their targets and they would share the proceeds.
The suspect also told the court that the police used different tactics to extort or silence their victims. While defending himself during his application for referral to the Constitutional Court, Nguwaya said they used to plant cocaine or any prohibited drugs on their foreign and local victims in order to extort money from them.
Many foreigners resident in the country, including Chinese and Pakistani nationals, have of late been hauled to the courts in increasing numbers, facing charges of illegal possession of cocaine. The levels of corruption in the country have increased so much that former President Robert Mugabe noted that the rot was stalling efforts to bring investors into the country.
In 2012, Mugabe chided former Mines minister Obert Mpofu after reports emerged that the latter was demanding a $10 million bribe from a South Africa ruling party African National Congress (ANC)-linked company, which wanted to invest $1 billion into the mining industry.
“I was getting complaints from outside. Former South African President Thabo Mbeki was saying some of their people in the ANC wanted to come intending to do business and this is what they have been told: ‘If you want to do this business, you bring $5 million and from that $5 million, we take $1 million that we will take to the minister to give to the President’,” Mugabe said at the time.
Several Zimbabwean ministers have also allegedly enriched themselves by demanding bribes and kickbacks from investors using Mugabe’s name. Potential investors in the telecommunications, road construction and energy sectors have not been spared.