Zimbabwe central bank threatens to sue Al Jazeera for peddling fake news about its alleged role in the African gold mafia


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The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe has threatened to sue the Doha-based news channel Al Jazeera for publishing what it termed fake news about the bank in its proposed investigative documentary series about an alleged African gold mafia involved in illicit gold dealings, corruption and money laundering.

The four-part series was supposed to start screening on 2 March with other episodes on 9, 16 and 23 March but was shelved at the last minute.

Snippets of the series have been leaked to selected journalists some of whom are known critics of the Zimbabwean government.

In a statement today, the central bank said it was concerned and disturbed by sensationally wild, false and malicious media reports, carried in snippets of an unscreened Al Jazeera documentary, produced by the network’s Investigative Unit, purveying the impression that the Bank was “Southern Africa’s laundromat” or “Southern Africa’s laundry service” for an alleged African gold mafia involved in illicit gold dealings, corruption and money laundering.

“It is particularly strange that the reports claim that ‘through the Bank, Government is using illicit ways as a scheme to bust international sanctions placed on political leaders and government entities’. The Bank is not a sanctioned entity, and the cited individuals are not sanctioned persons either,” the bank says. 

“There are no sanctions on Zimbabwean exports and imports, including trade in gold, to warrant Zimbabwe to ‘circumvent international sanctions’ through illicit trade in gold. As such, the claim that there is ‘a scheme to bust international sanctions using illicit ways’ shows beyond doubt that the peddlers of this narrative have a sinister agenda with nefarious objectives of tarnishing both the Bank and the Republic of Zimbabwe.”

The RBZ says it was curious that it had responded to 32 questions posed by Al Jazeera but its responses seem to have been ignored.

“Curiously, the leaked snippets of the unscreened documentary omit the Bank’s responses to 32 questions Al Jazeera Investigative Unit posed to the Bank in connection with the allegations,” the bank says. 

“In the spirit of transparency and social responsibility, the Bank responded to all the 32 questions in detail on 27 February 2023 and the responses clearly show that the narrative, so far purveyed, is nothing but false. The Bank is disappointed that either Al Jazeera Investigative Unit has not included the Bank’s responses in the information they have leaked to or shared with their selected media houses and journalists, or the concerned journalists have elected to ignore the Bank’s responses and only published the fake allegations in a malicious pursuit of a hidden agenda, unknown to the Bank or Al Jazeera.

“The Bank reserves its rights to take appropriate legal action or initiate necessary sanctions against the interviewees and purveyors of the fake news to protect its fiduciary responsibilities in the national interests.”

Full statement:

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Charles Rukuni
The Insider is a political and business bulletin about Zimbabwe, edited by Charles Rukuni. Founded in 1990, it was a printed 12-page subscription only newsletter until 2003 when Zimbabwe's hyper-inflation made it impossible to continue printing.

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