THE whitewashing has begun, it seems. The strategy, it appears, is deny, deflect, blame others and anything till the matter dies down.
Cleopas Chidodo, the head of security for the Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe, finally resurfaced, weeks after he exposed his part in the rampant smuggling taking place through Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport.
“I wish to render my unconditional apologies to Grace Mugabe and former First Family for the falsehoods I mentioned about them,” he said.
“I wish to clarify that I never willingly presented myself to provide any information to Al Jazeera News Network. It was unwise, immature and extremely unfortunate that I resorted to lying, soiling the reputation of Mugabe and her family,” he said in a video recording that has since gone viral.
Chidodo accuses the Al Jazeera undercover journalists of spiking his drinks, but does not say how he was conscious enough to recall the juicy details about the smugglers and his part in the scheme.
“Individuals who secretly recorded me had actually approached me intending to offer my family scholarships to study abroad. It was during this meeting that the subject changed and they revealed to my shock that they actually intended to smuggle minerals out of Zimbabwe.”
The game plan by his handlers, it seems, is that one of the key figures in the sordid saga is publicly admitting to lying, it blows a big hole in the documentary’s key findings that knit together how the Gold Mafia, the band of criminals driving gold smuggling and money laundering worth billions of dollars in southern Africa, is moving money and mineral wealth abroad.
It is worth noting that he was dressed in his official work uniform when the apology recording was made. How does he still have a job after this?
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Not many Zimbabweans had ever heard of him until he popped up on the keenly followed investigative documentary detailing how he helps gold smugglers transport their contraband to Dubai.
Through his rather tasty information, we were shown just how much security at the biggest and busiest airport in the country has been compromised.
The whole shameful episode simply told us that Zimbabwe was for sale to the highest bidder, or anyone willing to pay to compromise people entrusted to key positions.
We don’t buy the apology, which seems designed to clear the names of those implicated in the documentary. We even understand why they started with Grace too. If he was wrong about Grace, who else is he wrong about?
We know the names that have come out that need protection: President Emmerson Mnangagwa, and his wife Auxillia. The two have been put at the epicentre of the smuggling and money laundering scam.
Instead of investigating the scandal, the actors seem keen to sweep it under the carpet, blame, deflect and lie.
But, we do know that the Gold Mafia is real, and who is behind it; that cat has long escaped the bag.