A Chicago man charged with illegally lobbying for the lifting of sanctions against Zimbabwe may have tried to con President Robert Mugabe as it emerged yesterday that one of the State Senators for Illinois Donne Trotter who was allegedly fighting for the lifting of sanctions did not write some of the letters of support sent to the Zimbabwean president.
Gregory Turner forwarded several letters from Trotter to top Zimbabwean government officials which claimed that he would fight for the lifting of sanctions and would lobby United States President Barack Obama not to renew sanctions imposed by his predecessor George Bush.
Turner and his associate Prince Asiel Ben Israel are alleged to have entered into an agreement with the Zimbabwean government to lobby for the lifting of sanctions against senior government officials. They were to be paid US$3.4 million.
The only payment of US$89 970 that was wired to Ben Israel was frozen by his bank when he failed to give a satisfactory explanation of what the money was for.
The Consulting Agreement was signed by Ben Israel and Senator Monica Mutsvangwa, wife of Deputy Foreign Affairs Minister Christopher Mutsvangwa. She is also a former Deputy Minister.
Ben Israel pleaded guilty and was sentenced to seven months jail last month.
Trotter worked with Obama for seven years in the Illinois Senate but he said he could not have pushed Obama to lift sanctions on Zimbabwe because he “didn’t have that kind of relationship with the president”, according to The Chicago Tribune.
Trotter also said that though he had always been against the imposition of sanctions on Zimbabwe, especially their effect on the impoverished people, as a State Senator he had no powers to have them lifted.
He said he had never authorised Turner to sign letters on his behalf promising top Zimbabwean government officials that he would lobby Obama to lift sanctions against Zimbabwe.
According to the State case, Turner forwarded several letters and emails from Trotter stating what he was doing to lift sanctions.
One of the letters allegedly from Trotter to Mugabe read: “In an effort to make sure that you are updated on the work being done towards the lifting of the sanctions imposed upon Zimbabwe, I wanted to personally give confirmation that we are in the final planning stage as we prepare for the delegation to travel to South Africa and Zimbabwe. . . . .the delegation, led by me and coordinated by Prince Asiel Ben Israel, is scheduled to travel December 6, 2009 to December 10, 2009….I am looking forward to meeting with you again, as we work together to bring an end [to] the sanctions and further growth and development in Zimbabwe.”
State prosecutor Georgia Alexakis told the court at the beginning of Turner’s trial this week that he was an opportunist who forged signatures of Chicago legislators in letters of support for lifting of sanctions to Mugabe.
Trotter told the court yesterday that some of the letters to Mugabe appeared to have been forged. He said although some were on his official letterhead but his first name was misspelled as Donnie.
According to the founding affidavit filed by the Federal Bureau of Investigation when Turner forwarded most of the letters of support from legislators he was trying to get the Zimbabwean government to pay him and his associate but Central Bank governor Gideon Gono was refusing to release any money.