ZIMBABWE: President Robert Mugabe’s money men

mugabe_6.jpgSanctions target President Mugabe's money men
JOHANNESBURG- The former captain of the Rhodesian rugby side and an alleged "sanction-buster" for Ian Smith's white minority government in what is now Zimbabwe, as well as a South African-born businessman wanted in his home country for fraud, are some of th

John Bredenkamp – appointed rugby captain in 1965, the same year Smith
announced Rhodesia’s Unilateral Declaration of Independence from
Britain – and 18 of his companies were blacklisted by the EU on 27
January 2009 for his "strong ties to the Government of Zimbabwe …
[and providing], including through his companies, financial and other
support to the [Zimbabwe] regime."

The sanctions against Bredenkamp, 68, and Muller Conrad (Billy)
Rautenbach, 50, said by the EU to have "strong ties to the Government
of Zimbabwe, including through support to senior regime officials
during Zimbabwe’s intervention in DRC [Democratic Republic of Congo]" –
mark the beginning of a strategy to isolate those seen as propping up
President Robert Mugabe’s ZANU-PF government.

The EU has frozen assets, and imposed travel bans on 203 people, from
Mugabe to Caesar Zvayi, a journalist working for the
government-controlled daily newspaper, The Herald, and has also
blacklisted 28 companies based in Zimbabwe, mainland Britain and the
tax havens of the Isle of Man, the British Virgin Islands and Cayman

John Clancy, spokesperson for the European Commission for development
and humanitarian aid, told IRIN: "The measures [sanctions] do not
impact on the general population of Zimbabwe. They are targeted
measures against individuals of the Zimbabwe government and its

Mugabe blames the sanctions for his country’s economic meltdown. Annual
inflation is measured in the sextillions of percent by independent
economists, unemployment is running at 94 percent according to the UN,
while more than half the country’s citizens require emergency food aid,
and a cholera pandemic that shows few signs of abating has killed more
than 3,000 people in six months.

Mugabe and his ruling ZANU-PF party have been joined by the Southern
African Development Community (SADC), a regional body, and the African
Union, in calling for the EU to drop sanctions after a power-sharing
government was agreed.

Nelson Chamisa, spokesman for the Movement for Democratic Change,
Zimbabwe’s main opposition party, led by Morgan Tsvangirai – who is
expected to assume the prime minister’s office on 11 February – told
IRIN: "The sanctions are an issue to be resolved between ZANU-PF and
the European Union."

Clancy said the EU supported the "positive move" of the inclusive
government, "but it is a little early in the process to say the
situation is wholly resolved."

Any decision to lift sanctions would be taken by the ministers of the
EU’s 27 member countries. EU member state missions in the capital,
Harare, recommend those eligible for targeted sanctions.

‘I was a Rhodesian; I am now a Zimbabwean’

Bredenkamp was ranked among Britain’s richest people in 2002, with an
estimated fortune of US$1 billion. According to the website of one of
his blacklisted companies, Breco, he is living in Zimbabwe, having left
Britain in 2000.

He "was imprisoned by the Zimbabwe Government in 2006 for alleged
passport violations [though he was subsequently acquitted in court] and
has recently had his passport withheld by that Government," the website

The EU said Bredenkamp had three passports: one from the Netherlands
(expired), one from Zimbabwe and one from Surinam, a former Dutch

Bredenkamp reportedly fell foul of Mugabe in his attempts as king-maker
in 2004. He allegedly tried to convince Mugabe to retire and make way
for the former security minister Emmerson Mnangagwa, a strategy that
underestimated the intensity of the succession race and resulted in a
fierce ZANU-PF backlash.

His companies were investigated for tax and exchange control violations
and he reportedly fled Zimbabwe in 2006, but on his return he was
charged with using a South African passport, in contravention of
citizenship laws that do not permit dual nationality. Bredenkamp was
born in South Africa.

"I was a Rhodesian; I am now a Zimbabwean. I was a tobacco merchant; I
am now an investor in many different sectors," Bredenkamp says on the
Breco website.


John Bredenkamp

As a "tobacco merchant", Bredenkamp founded the Casalee Group of
companies, which focused primarily on leaf tobacco, in Antwerp,
Belgium, in 1976; it also engaged in general trading, with branches in
a multitude of countries and tobacco-processing factories in the
Netherlands, Zimbabwe, Malawi and Brazil.

By 1993 it had become the world’s fifth largest leaf tobacco merchant
and was bought for $100 million by the world’s largest leaf tobacco
company, Universal Leaf Tobacco. Brian Murphy, a former Casalee
executive in Zimbabwe, said of Bredenkamp in an interview with Sports
Illustrated in 1996: "he’s always been an arms dealer."

Bredenkamp has consistently denied the arms dealer moniker, although a
British investigative television programme, broadcast in 1994, claimed
that one of his companies sold anti-aircraft guns to Iraq and land
mines to Iran during the Iran-Iraq war in the 1980s.

Mike Pelham, former financial officer of Casalee Zurich, told the
television interviewer: "The objective was to arrange an introduction
between a supplier and a purchaser. Casalee would do that. The arms
would then be transferred from the manufacturer directly to the
purchaser and on the deal having been finalized, then a commission
would be paid from the manufacturer to the agent, in this case,

In the 1970s, Bredenkamp reportedly broke sanctions imposed by the UN
against the white minority government during the liberation war by
supplying spare parts for the Hawker Hunter ground-attack aircraft of
the Rhodesian air force. These aircraft also saw service during
Zimbabwe’s intervention in the DRC in the late 1990s.

"We tend to stay out of politics and get on with our everyday business,
but we have to work with governments of the day, just like
multinationals the world over – it is naive to suggest that other
courses are open to us. It is only by having good working relations
with the Zimbabwean government, built up over the last 22 years, that I
have been able to engage in constructive criticism," Bredenkamp says on
the Breco website.

Bredenkamp’s name has also been linked to a billion-dollar arms deal in
neighbouring South Africa, involving the British arms company BAE,
which local commentators say has poisoned the political groundwater of
the fledgling democracy.

Muller Conrad Rautenbach, otherwise known as Billy

Billy Rautenbach, another individual identified by the EU as
financially supporting Mugabe’s "regime", fled South Africa in 1999,
facing numerous charges of theft, bribery and fraud, and now reportedly
lives on a farm near Mazowe, about 70km from the capital, Harare.

His company, Ridgepoint Overseas Developments, registered in the
British Virgin Islands, has also been blacklisted by the EU. The South
African-born former rally driver, who holds Zimbabwean citizenship, has
enjoyed the patronage of Mugabe since the 1990s.

Rautenbach was appointed by DRC President Laurent-Desire Kabila as the
chief executive of the state-owned mining company, La Générale des
Carrières et des Mines (Gecamines) in 1998. Mobuto Sese Seko, president
of the then Zaire, had been deposed the previous year.

Rautenbach’s position at Gecamines was reportedly secured in direct
negotiations between Kabila and Mnangagwa, as payback for Zimbabwe’s
military backing.

George Forrest, son of Belgian businessman Malta Forrest, replaced
Rautenbach as Gecamines chief in 2000 after an apparent spat in which
Kabila accused Rautenbach of allegedly siphoning off cobalt and copper
profits to Ridgepoint. Kabila senior was assassinated and replaced as
president by his son, Joseph, in 2001.

Rautenbach maintained his interests in the mining sector during the
second Congo war (1998-2002), at a time when Zimbabwean troops were
fighting in support of Kabila.

In 2002 the UN Panel of Experts on the Illegal Exploitation of Natural
Resources and Other Forms of Wealth of the Democratic Republic of the
Congo, described Rautenbach as a man "whose personal and professional
integrity is doubtful."

The report found a network of "Congolese and Zimbabwean political,
military and commercial interests [that] seeks to maintain its grip on
the main mineral resources — diamonds, cobalt, copper, germanium — of
the [DRC] Government-controlled area.

The DRC connection

"This network has transferred ownership of at least US$5 billion of
assets from the state mining sector to private companies under its
control in the past three years, with no compensation or benefit for
the State treasury of the Democratic Republic of the Congo," the report
said. "Its representatives in the Kinshasa Government and the Zimbabwe
Defence Forces have fuelled instability."

This network has transferred ownership of at least US$5 billion of
assets from the state mining sector to private companies under its
control in the past three years, with no compensation or benefit for
the State treasury of the Democratic Republic of Congo

Among the Zimbabwean military-political elite involved in plundering
DRC resources the report named Rautenbach, Mnangagwa, Zimbabwe Defence
Force Commander Gen Vitalis Zvinavashe, as well as his family members,
Air Marshal Perence Shiri, Brig-Gen Sibusiso Moyo, former security
minister Sidney Sekeramayi, and chief executive of Oryx Natural
Resources, Thamer Bin Said Ahmed Al-Shanfari, an Omani national. All
appear on the EU sanctions list.

Not on the EU sanctions list, but identified in the UN report as those
assisting the Zimbabwe political and military elite to extract minerals
were DRC ministers and businessmen.

The complex web of resource mining concessions in DRC saw Rautenbach
again fall out of favour with the DRC authorities in 2007, when he was
arrested and deported from Lubumbashi, in the mineral-rich southern
province of Katanga.

"Mr Rautenbach has amassed a large number of mineral and other assets
in the DRC during the civil war and subsequently. The government of the
DRC is making strenuous efforts to clean up the mining sector," the DRC
authorities reportedly said in a statement.

Rautenbach issued a statement shortly after the incident saying reports
of his arrest as a "major shareholder of Central African Mining and
Exploration Company (CAMEC)" were totally unfounded.

The chairman of CAMEC, which has a present market capitalization of
about $72 million, is Zambian-born Phil Edmonds, who played
international cricket for England during the 1970s; its managing
director is Andrew Groves, who was born in Zimbabwe.

There is no suggestion that CAMEC has any corrupt links with Mugabe and
his associates, but it does have platinum concessions in Zimbabwe – as
does the South Africa-based mining company, Anglo Platinum – and it
also has mining interests in the DRC, South Africa, Mozambique and

Ben Brewerton, of the public relations company, Financial Dynamics,
which acts for CAMEC, told IRIN that Rautenbach had a six percent
shareholding, worth about $4.3 million at the current share price, and
held no executive positions with the company. He said the EU sanctions
had had no impact on Rautenbach’s CAMEC shareholding – "It’s business
as usual."

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