PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe and a host of government officials, including former War Veterans minister Christopher Mutsvangwa, reportedly benefited from huge bribes from former United States Congressman Mel Reynolds after promising him a diamond claim, it has emerged.
BY STAFF REPORTER
In a revealing Press release in which he threatens to sue Mutsvangwa in particular, Reynolds claims he doled out unspecified amounts to Mugabe, gave presents to Tourism minister Walter Mzembi and “greased” former Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara in an intricate scam that fleeced Chicago businessman Elzie Higginbottom of millions.
“The United States Department of Justice, through the Northern District of Illinois, had information on Higginbottom getting a diamond concession from President Mugabe and chose to do nothing about it,” Reynolds says in the statement attributed to him.
“They were more interested in pursuing a Misdemeanuor Tax case against Congressman Reynolds than pursuing blatant felonious violations of the Zimbabwe Sanction Laws that are enforced by the United States Treasury Department.”
Reynolds then provides what he calls a partial list of beneficiaries of his bribes, with Mugabe at the top of the pile.
“The first time Higginbottom bribed Mugabe was in America in Mugabe’s hotel suite. The head of the CIO (Central Intelligence Organisation) was present when this happened. The next time it happened in Harare in Mugabe’s private office at State House is Zimbabwe. (US civil rights leader) Rev Jesse Jackson was present when this happened. There are photos of both these encounters available,” the statement claims.
Mutsvangwa and his wife, Monica, according to the statement, are said to have “received very large sums of cash from Higginbottom in America and in Zimbabwe on numerous occasions”.
“Higginbottom has also used one of his private planes to fly them from Chicago to New York to avoid detection of a large amount of cash that Higginbottom gave them for Zimbabwean officials in New York and Washington, DC.
“There is a witness to this transaction who has been recently paid off and refused to testify for the defence in the recent tax case,” Reynolds said.
On the other hand, Mzembi was reportedly “bribed with cash and [cheques] on several occasions in Chicago”.
This seems to have been confirmed by Mutsvangwa in a letter to Higginbottom dated May 30, 2012 in which the former Zimbabwean envoy to China praises Reynolds as a good contact for the businessman who had created “good networks” in Harare’s political establishment.
Mutsvangwa, in the letter written on the letterhead of a company he co-owns with his wife, narrates an incident in Chicago in which “the Minister of Tourism and his wife wanted to show their appreciation of the work Mel and you are doing in Zimbabwe”.
“Higginbottom has given cash to the former Deputy Prime Minister (Mutambara) in Chicago and while he was in Washington to lobby Mugabe for a diamond concession. Although Mutambara is not a member of Zanu PF, he became very close to Mugabe during his time as DPM,” it was claimed.
According to the statement, Reynolds, who was last week convicted of tax evasion, “is now in talks with lawyers in preparation of filing a criminal complaint against Higginbottom and Mutsvangwa with the Federal Bureau of Investigation regarding these criminal activities and the human rights abuses that Congressman Reynolds suffered in Zimbabwe”.
Reynolds was feted during his short stay in the country before he was deported after being arrested on charges of possessing pornographic material.
The charges were thrown out, but he was convicted of overstaying on an expired permit.