The United States today added Tagwirei’s wife, Sandra Mpunga and President Emmmerson Mnangagwa’s son, Emmerson Jr, to its sanctions list largely because of their links to businessman Kudakwashe Tagwirei.
Tagwirei was slapped with sanctions in August 2020 “for having materially assisted, sponsored, or provided financial, material, logistical, or technical support for, or goods or services in support of, the government of Zimbabwe” through his company Sakunda, Washington said in a statement today.
It said Tagwirei also utilised his relationships with high-level Zimbabwean officials to gain state contracts and receive favoured access to hard currency, including US dollars.
“In turn, Tagwirei has provided high priced items, such as expensive cars, to senior-level Zimbabwean government officials. Since former Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe’s 2017 departure, Tagwirei used a combination of opaque business dealings and his ongoing relationship with President Mnangagwa to grow his business empire dramatically and rake in millions of US dollars,” Washington said.
Others added onto the list were Nqobile Magwizi and Obey Chimuka and two companies- Fossil Agro and Fossil Contracting.
The United Sates’s sanctions implementing arm, Office of Foreign Assets Control, said Sandra had been slapped with sanctions for her role in forming Sakunda and also because she was an executive director of the company.
Magwizi, OFAC says, has served as the chief marketing and public relations officer of Sakunda as well as being Mpunga’s executive assistant.
Chimuka owns Fossil Contracting and is also its director and is the CEO and director of Fossil Agro, OFAC says. Chimuka is a longtime business partner of Tagwirei and is considered part of Tagwirei’s inner circle. Chimuka also sits on the board and serves as director of several of Tagwirei’s companies.
It says Fossil Agro has supplied the Government of Zimbabwe’s Command Agriculture Programme, a state farm subsidy largely financed by Sakunda which has failed to account for billions of dollars in disbursements.
The Government of Zimbabwe awarded Fossil Contracting nearly US$40 million in contracts in 2021, OFAC said.
The two companies were therefore designated for providing material, logistical, or technical support to the government of Zimbabwe.
Emmerson Mnangagwa, Jr. was designated because he is in charge of President Mnangagwa’s business interests related to Tagwirei.
The four individuals and two companies were designated a day before the US-Africa summit to which Zimbabwe was invited despite being on US sanctions.
Recent reports have said that one of the reasons why Zimbabwe was invited to the US-Africa summit is because Washington has been losing out commercially to China, especially in Zimbabwe.