Probe exposes ‘dodgy’ oil, vehicle deals

It states in its latest report that Faz, allegedly led by CIO deputy director-general Walter Tapfumaneyi, was formed in 2010 with support from the then Ministry of State for Presidential Affairs (MSPA).

AN investigation by a United States-based non-profit investigative unit, The Sentry, has unearthed a web of dodgy oil and vehicle import deals by individuals linked to the ruling Zanu PF party and government.

The report, which was published yesterday, claimed a Zanu PF-linked group, Forever Associates Zimbabwe (Faz) may have spent up to US$4 million to bolster the ruling party’s fortunes during last year’s polls.

The elections were won by President Emmerson Mnangagwa and Zanu PF.

The presidential election result was disputed by the Citizens Coalition for Change although it did not go to court to challenge.

The Southern African Development Community (Sadc) observer mission and other election monitors passed adverse reports detailing the unconstitutional interference of Faz in the electoral process.

The Sentry focuses on disabling multinational predatory networks.

It states in its latest report that Faz, allegedly led by CIO deputy director-general Walter Tapfumaneyi, was formed in 2010 with support from the then Ministry of State for Presidential Affairs (MSPA).

The Sentry said Tapfumaneyi denied links to Faz.

“I have nothing to do with Forever Associates Zimbabwe, either personally or officially,” he told The Sentry.

The report reads, in part: “The Forever Associates Zimbabwe (Faz) trust, set up to help the ruling Zanu PF win the 2023 elections, was established by associates and family members of Asher Walter Tapfumaneyi, the deputy director general of the Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO)”.

“Faz’s activities — including a large get-out-the-vote operation — may have helped the ruling party win the election.

“Observers, including the Sadc and EU (European Union) poll monitors, reported Faz’s presence at thousands of polling stations, where  its reported links to Zanu PF and the security services may have intimidated rural voters.

“Faz also spent at least US$4 million — a large sum of money in Zimbabwean  politics — importing 160 or more Toyota Hilux pickup trucks for Zanu PF candidates.”

The Sentry’s report chronicles the history of Faz’s formation dating back to the late strongman Robert Mugabe’s tenure as president in a coalition government with the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC-T).

The MDC-T presided over the Treasury, creating headaches for Zanu PF to mobilise funding for its activities.

Tapfumaneyi, The Sentry’s investigation reveals, then principal director in the MSPA “was designed to carry out various deals away from prying eyes, according to someone in the security sector at the time”.

“Described by an insider as “the ultimate Zanu patriot,” Tapfumaneyi joined the liberation movement at 16, eventually retiring from the military as a Brigadier General.

“He served in the CIO as assistant director, then left to take roles leading the MSPA and, later, the War Veterans ministry before returning to the CIO as deputy director general in 2020.

“During the government of national unity, established after the violence of the 2008 election, the opposition, Movement for Democratic Change, controlled the Ministry of Finance.

“To get around their rival’s control of revenue and expenditure, both the military and the CIO set up a variety of joint ventures to raise off-budget finances.

“Mugabe established the MSPA, with Tapfumaneyi as principal director, as a way of circumventing MDC influence over the civil service,” the Sentry’s report reads.

In one such deal, The Sentry highlights that Tapfumaneyi “reportedly” solicited for between US$300 000 and US$500 000 from a South African corporate intelligence firm working on behalf of a giant tobacco multinational to facilitate the release of three inmates facing charges of espionage in Zimbabwe.

“While still at the MSPA, for instance, Tapfumaneyi solicited a campaign donation on behalf of Zanu PF, as first jointly reported by the BBC, the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, and the University of Bath. The joint investigation found that in 2012, he reportedly asked for between US$300 000 and US$500 000 in exchange for releasing three prisoners charged with illegal surveillance.

“The inmates were the directors of a Zimbabwean security company that had been subcontracted by a South African corporate intelligence firm working on behalf of a giant tobacco multinational,” the report further reveals.

“Leaked documents reveal that Tapfumaneyi suggested money would ease the path to their release: ‘With the upcoming elections a donation … to Zanu-PF would pave the way for negotiations to continue.”

The Sentry’s report further claimed that Tapfumaneyi, during his time at MSPA, formed a string of companies with his deputy Tangisai Tapera, which negotiated for 90 000 metric tonnes of fuel with an Iranian minister.

One of the companies (Lionshow Resources) in which the Sentry claims Tapfumaneyi held a 50% stake was incorporated in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

Again, upon being quizzed by The Sentry, Tapfumaneyi and Tapera disassociated themselves from the companies.

The Sentry’s report adds: “For example, following the diamond fever that swept through eastern Zimbabwe in the late 2000s, Tapfumaneyi, his second-in-command at the MSPA, Tangisai Tapera, … set up two companies - Moosejaw Enterprises and Rosy Red Capital.

“Later, Tapfumaneyi set up two other companies as part of an MSPA oil deal with Iran. In 2011, following a meeting with an Iranian oil minister, Tapfumaneyi wrote requesting 90 000 metric tonnes of fuel, with the contract to be signed by Lionshow Trading in Zimbabwe, whose directors included Tapfumaneyi and Tapera. Two months later, the two set up Lionshow Resources in the United Arab Emirates.

“Tapfumaneyi denied any illegality in any of these dealings.”

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