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UN still to clear those linked to Congo deals

Dumisani Muleya

THE United Nations panel on the plunder of natural resources in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), which finished its extended mandate last Friday,

has not cleared top Zimbabwean officials and military officers implicated in shady deals.

The panel submitted its report to UN secretary-general Kofi Annan on October 15 and to the UN Security Council two weeks later. It says Zanu PF secretary for administration Emmerson Mnangagwa, Zimbabwe Defence Forces commander General Vitalis Zvinavashe, and Brigadier General Sibusiso Moyo still have cases to answer.

All three have denied any wrong-doing. Mining companies are also not let off the hook.

Allegations of pillage against Osleg and Cosleg, in which the Zimbabwean army had interests, are still pending. The report urges government to investigate those accused of looting in the DRC and take appropriate measures. Countries like Uganda and the DRC itself are already doing that.

Those accused of plunder have been suspended from government in the DRC.

Zimbabwean companies and individuals who have been cleared include Thorntree Industries (Pvt) Ltd, business magnate Billy Rautenbach’s Ridgepointe Overseas Development, and the late army officer Charles Dauramanzi.

Others cleared but subject to monitoring by the panel are tycoon John Bredenkamp and Kabankola Mining. Avient Air’s case is still being probed.

The UN panel says in May and June, government forwarded responses on the pillage accusation by “three Zimbabwean individuals” named in its October 2002 report.

The report, which named 157 companies and individuals from the UK, the US, Belgium, Germany, South Africa and countries that fought in the DRC, prompted international condemnation against accused looters. At least 119 accused parties reacted to the report.

“As the panel considered that a number of outstanding issues remained, it provided information and documentation to Zimbabwean authorities to enable them to examine the panel’s findings and take the appropriate corrective action,” the report says.

However, the report notes Zimbabwe has said it is “in no position to take any measures … as neither itself nor its nationals were or are involved in any illegal deals in the DRC”.

Zimbabwe was bogged down in the recent DRC war for four years. Its political and military leaders were accused of looting.

On January 24, the Security Council adopted resolution 1457 (2003) renewing the mandate of the panel. Under that six-month mandate, the panel, which has been working on the issue for three years now, was requested to verify, reinforce and update its earlier findings and, as necessary, revise its information.

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