BY RICHARD CHIDZA
PRESIDENT Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government has reportedly expelled from the country an unknown number of North Korean nationals of “questionable character”, who were in partnership with a local tobacco merchant, in compliance with United Nations resolutions against co-operation with the Asian “rogue” State.
In February last year, government reportedly approached businesswoman Rudo Boka asking her to explain her alleged dealings with North Korea as Harare came under immense pressure to comply with the United Nations (UN) Security Council resolution that prohibits any dealings that could provide financial assistance to the regime.
Boka is one of the directors of a company registered as Mansudae Boka Design Company, whose other directors are North Korean.
Foreign Affairs and International Trade ministry spokesperson Gideon Gapare told NewsDay last week that the partnership between Boka and the North Koreans had since been dissolved.
“The Boka-Mansudae partnership was called off by government because some of the people from the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) or North Korea had been mentioned in UN documents and were of questionable characteristics,” Gapare said.
Asked if the group, whose number he would not give, had been deported, Gapare said “they had been given time to leave”.
“I would not say they were deported. That would mean they had committed a criminal offence, which would be wrong. They were asked to wind up their operations and leave the country in government’s fulfilment of international obligations. Once a UN arm passes a resolution, as a member, Zimbabwe has an obligation to abide,” Gapare said.
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A report dated September 5, 2017 reveals that a United Nations panel of experts wrote to government officials demanding to know the operations of North Korea’s Mansudae Overseas Project (MOP) Group of Companies.
According to United Nations Security Council Resolution 2371 adopted on August 5 last year, the company allegedly funds the North Korean regime, which is accused of threatening international peace and security through its nuclear armaments.
Mansudae Boka Design Company says it is into the manufacture of jewellery, mainly gold and silver rings, and badges, brochures, buttons and rank medals for the military, while Mansudae Overseas Project Group of Companies is reportedly well-known for “construction-related activities, including statues and monuments to generate revenue for the DPRK government or the Workers’ Party of Korea”.
Sources claimed that the company’s tentacles were spreading into neighbouring countries.
Boka denied any links with the North Korean company, arguing that it was a case of mistaken identity.
But at the time, then Foreign Affairs permanent secretary Joey Bimha said Boka had agreed to “change the directorship of that company”, adding she was “in the process of doing that and we will be monitoring that”.
Gapare said government was also looking into the activities of DPRK’s Trade Attache in Harare, Kim Chang Su, who is believed to have links to the poaching underworld.
Su was part of a group of DPRK diplomats who were deported from South Africa a few years ago over ivory smuggling following an arrest in Ethiopia.
The Foreign Affairs spokesperson, however, would not reveal the date on which the North Koreans left the country.
Zimbabwe had strong historical links with North Korea, including military co-operation.