Major sponsors and financial front men for president Robert Mugabe’s Zanu PF regime, Billy Rautenbach and John Bredenkamp have been exposed as shady dealers who secretly used the services of a discredited Panama firm Mossack Fonseca to siphon possibly billions of dollars out of Zimbabwe and illegally operate offshore accounts to hide funds and evade local taxes.
According to documents dubbed the ‘Panama Papers’ leaked to the Consortium of Investigative Journalists, platinum miner Zimplats, which has close ties to the regime, used an offshore account to pay its top executives top salaries in foreign currency.
The People’s Democratic Party (PDP) led by former finance minister Tendai Biti has demanded an official enquiry into the scandal.
“The People’s Democratic Party (PDP) demands the immediate establishment of a commission of inquiry to look into the Panama Papers following reports on how two businessmen with strong Zanu PF links avoided paying taxes and externalized huge sums of money out of Zimbabwe. A Panama law firm, Mossack Fonseca, stands accused of helping companies, politicians and businessmen launder money through illicit financial flows and offshore companies. The two businessmen implicated in the Panama Papers are: Billy Rautenbach and John Bredenkamp and are well-known funders of Zanu PF,” PDP spokesman Jacob Mafume said in a statement.
Bredenkamp is an arms dealer and mining tycoon who made his fortune playing government and rebel groups against each other and supplying rivals with weapons in the Congo. Rautenbach’s Macdom is the joint owner with the government’s Agricultural and Rural Development Authority of Green Fuel ethanol production plant in Chisumbanje. Rautenbach, also known as Conrad Mueller, is involved in diamond mining in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where president Joseph Kabila gave him a large concession area now known as ‘Rautenbach’ in exchange for a private jet, cash and other trinkets. Rautenbach is a known front for Zanu PF and is close to both Mugabe and vice president Emmerson Mnangagwa. He and his father were used by the late Joshua Nkomo to hide Zapu properties and businesses that were targeted for takeover by Mugabe.
“The two men had sanctions imposed on them for operating as fronts for Robert Mugabe’s business interests but were able to continue running their businesses through offshore companies for years despite concerns being raised over their dealings by the United Nations (UN),” Mafume said. “According to the UN, Bredenkamp is experienced in setting up clandestine companies. For his work in protecting Mugabe’s financial interests, Rautenbach was awarded a controversial and corrupt contract in the construction of an ethanol plant, the Green Fuel in Chisumbanje and now has the sole right in the supply of green fuel in the country. The mandatory fuel blending imposed by the government on behalf of Green Fuel is a symbol of Rautenbach’s far reaching influence on the Zanu PF government.”
Mafume said “as a result of the controversial links between Rautenbach and Zanu PF, major shareholders in fuel retail companies such as Sakunda and Redan have been elbowed out of business as the Zanu PF cartel has moved in to create a total monopoly in the fuel sector and thus keep consumers hostage to high fuel prices”.
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