The United States slapped sanctions on the son of Zimbabwe’s president and three others for alleged involvement in corruption Monday, one day before President Joe Biden hosts a summit with African leaders in Washington.
The US Treasury Department sanctioned Emmerson Mnangagwa Jr, son of Zimbabwe President Emmerson Mnangagwa, for his involvement with Kudakwashe Tagwirei and his company, Sakunda Holdings, which were singled out for sanctions related to alleged corruption and human rights violations in 2020.
The Treasury also placed Tagwirei’s wife Sandra Mpunga, Nqobile Magwizi, and Obey Chimuka, and two companies controlled by Chumuka, Fossil Agro and Fossil Contracting, for their involvement with Sakunda.
It said Tagwirei has been granted favorable state contracts and special access to hard currency, and “in turn… 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,” it said.
Mpunga is executive director of Sakunda and Magwizi is chief marketing officer, according to Treasury.
It said Chimuka is close to Tagwirei and has benefitted from large government program contracts, also involving Sakunda, which “failed to account for billions of dollars in disbursements.”
Meanwhile Mnangagwa Jr. “has been in charge of the president’s business interests related to Tagwirei,” according to the Treasury.
The sanctions announcement came one day before Biden hosts nearly 50 heads of state from the African continent for the US-Africa Leaders summit.
President Mnangagwa is not planning to attend; instead, Zimbabwe’s Foreign Minister Frederick Shava will represent the country, according to a list of expected attendees.
Mnangagwa came to power in 2017 after generals forced long-time ruler Mugabe to resign.
In October the ruling ZANU-PF party handed 80-year-old Mnangagwa a five-year term as party leader during its annual congress, opening the door for him to run for reelection as president in 2023.
But his leadership remains criticized for corruption and rights violations, including a crackdown on dissent that saw two opposition lawmakers and 16 opposition supporters imprisoned from June to November.