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_*• Zanu PF looting has robbed Zimbabweans of bright future – says Lord Oates*_
BRITISH Parliamentarians have debated setting up an International Anti-Corruption Court (IACC) to freeze billions in US dollars plunder that is kept abroad by government officials, with ruling Zanu PF officials said to be prime targets.
Speaking in the House of Lords, Lord Jonny Oates accused Zanu Pf of robbing Zimbabweans of a bright future due to its alleged state capture and uncontrolled corruption.
According to Oates, part of Zanu PF’s act was exposed by Al Jazeera’s investigative unit in Gold Mafia a four-part investigative report on illicit financial flows involving President Emmerson Mnangagwa, his wife Auxillia, niece Henrietta Rushwaya and Special Envoy Uebert Angel.
Angel, a self-proclaimed prophet is a Zimbabwean-born British citizen.
The IACC was suggested as part of amendments to the Economic Crime and Corporate Transparency Bill currently before the House of Lords.
“The ZANU-PF regime is mired in corruption, which has robbed the Zimbabwean people of what should be a bright economic future. Instead of serving the people, regime leaders, aided by corrupt businesspeople and a prosecutorial and judicial system entirely captured by the ruling party, loot the country at will,” said Oates.
He added: “Few of these kleptocrats keep their ill-gotten gains at home. Billions of dollars of stolen assets are laundered in a number of countries, including China, Hong Kong, Dubai, Singapore, Monaco, Switzerland, some states of the United States, UK overseas territories and, shamefully, London.
“Recently, the Al Jazeera documentary ‘Gold Mafia’ secretly filmed Zimbabwe officials and business contacts conspiring to launder illicit funds. Those filmed included at least three British citizens—Angel, Rikki Doolan and Kamlesh Pattni—who made clear on camera their willingness to act corruptly.
“While British authorities can act on crimes committed under UK jurisdiction, there is no international mechanism to prosecute kleptocrats and to seize and return their illicit funds. This gaping vacuum can be filled only by establishing an international anti-corruption court that can hold corrupt leaders and their co-conspirators accountable.
“If some of the countries where laundered funds are held would join such a court, the stolen assets could be frozen and then, through orders of restitution, be repatriated to the countries from which they were stolen.
“If the risk of those funds being misused if returned to a corrupted state are too high, they could be repurposed and repatriated only at a time when they would reach the real victims: the millions in need in those countries.”
Oates last month called on the British government to investigate Angel, Doolan and Pattni after they featured in Gold Mafia.
According to Transparency International (TI), Zimbabwe loses US$1 billion to corruption each year, a figure opposition politician Tendai Biti has argued could resuscitate the country’s deplorable health delivery system.
In support of Oates’ suggestion, Baroness Patience Wheatcroft described state leaders involved in stripping off their states’ of resources for personal gain as ‘greedy financial war criminals.’
“Kleptocrats are financial war criminals, inflicting huge damage on their countries but, like the dictators who commit genocide and other war crimes, they have impunity to act as they wish in their home countries.
“They control the police, the prosecutors and the courts. The damage that their greed inflicts on their countries is huge, but those countries are rarely able to bring them to justice. That is why this new court is so essential,” said Wheatcroft. — _*NewZimbabwe*_