Treasury Sanctions Zimbabwe’s President and Key Actors for Corruption and Serious Human Rights Abuse

Treasury Sanctions Zimbabwe’s President and Key Actors for Corruption and Serious Human Rights Abuse

Following U.S. termination of the Zimbabwe Sanctions Program, Treasury designates key actors under the Global Magnitsky Program

WASHINGTON — Today, the Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) designated 11 individuals, including Zimbabwe’s President Emmerson Mnangagwa, and three entities for their involvement in corruption or serious human rights abuse pursuant to E.O. 13818, which builds upon and implements the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act.

Concurrently, President Biden signed an Executive Order (E.O.) terminating the national emergency with respect to Zimbabwe and revoking the E.O.s that have authorized Zimbabwe-specific sanctions. As a result, the economic sanctions administered by OFAC pursuant to the Zimbabwe sanctions program are no longer in effect.

This transition to sanctions under the Global Magnitsky Program, consistent with recommendations in Treasury’s 2021 Sanctions Review, emphasizes the U.S. commitment to promoting accountability for corrupt and abusive networks restricting the political rights and economic resources of the people of Zimbabwe. 

“The United States remains deeply concerned about democratic backsliding, human rights abuses, and government corruption in Zimbabwe,” said Deputy Secretary of the Treasury Wally Adeyemo. “The changes we are making today are intended to make clear what has always been true: our sanctions are not intended to target the people of Zimbabwe. Today we are refocusing our sanctions on clear and specific targets: President Mnangagwa’s criminal network of government officials and businesspeople who are most responsible for corruption or human rights abuse against the people of Zimbabwe. These changes to our approach provide an opportunity for the Government of Zimbabwe to undertake key reforms to improve its record on human rights, good governance, and anti-corruption. Consistent with the findings of Treasury’s 2021 sanctions review, we are committed to the use of economic sanctions towards a clear and specific objective, in coordination with diplomacy and other tools of statecraft.”

TERMINATION OF THE ZIMBABWE SANCTIONS PROGRAM

The President’s E.O. of March 4, 2024, “Termination of Emergency With Respect to the Situation in Zimbabwe,” terminated the national emergency declared in E.O. 13288 and built upon in E.O. 13391 and E.O. 13469. As a result:

  • All persons blocked solely pursuant to E.O. 13288, E.O. 13391, or E.O. 13469 (the authorities of the Zimbabwe Sanctions Program) will be removed today from OFAC’s Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons (SDN) List;
  • All property and interests in property blocked solely pursuant to the Zimbabwe Sanctions Program will be unblocked today; and
  • OFAC will remove the Zimbabwe Sanctions Regulations from the Code of Federal Regulations.

Pending or future OFAC investigations or enforcement actions related to apparent violations of the Zimbabwe Sanctions Regulations that occurred while the national emergency was in effect may still be carried out.

SANCTIONS TRANSITION UNDER THE GLOBAL MAGNITSKY PROGRAM

Emmerson Mnangagwa (Mnangagwa) is the President of Zimbabwe and is involved in corrupt activities, in particular those relating to gold and diamond smuggling networks. Mnangagwa provides a protective shield to smugglers to operate in Zimbabwe and has directed Zimbabwean officials to facilitate the sale of gold and diamonds in illicit markets, taking bribes in exchange for his services. Mnangagwa also oversees Zimbabwe’s security services, which have violently repressed political opponents and civil society groups. 

  • Mnangagwa was originally listed in the Annex to E.O. 13288 of March 6, 2003 and the Annex to E.O. 13391 of November  22, 2005. Today, he is being designated pursuant to E.O. 13818 for being a foreign person who is a current or former government official, or a person acting for or on behalf of such an official, who is responsible for or complicit in, or has directly or indirectly engaged in, corruption, including the misappropriation of state assets, the expropriation of private assets for personal gain, corruption related to government contracts or the extraction of natural resources, or bribery. 
  • He is also designated for being a foreign person who is or has been a leader or official of an entity, including any government entity, that has engaged in, or whose members have engaged in, serious human rights abuse relating to the leader’s or official’s tenure. 

The First Lady of Zimbabwe, Auxillia Mnangagwa (Auxillia), facilitates her husband’s corrupt activities.  

  • Auxillia is designated pursuant to E.O. 13818 for being a current or former government official, or a person acting for or on behalf of such an official, who is responsible for or complicit in, or has directly or indirectly engaged in, corruption, including the misappropriation of state assets, the expropriation of private assets for personal gain, corruption related to government contracts or the extraction of natural resources, or bribery.

CORRUPT BUSINESS NETWORK 

President Mnangagwa has benefited from the corrupt network of Zimbabwean businessman Kudakwashe Regimond Tagwirei (Tagwirei), who was designated on August 5, 2020 pursuant to E.O. 13469 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, any senior official thereof, or any person whose property and interests in property are blocked pursuant to E.O. 13288, E.O. 13391, or E.O. 13469. Tagwirei is a close ally of Mnangagwa and has a longstanding association with the ruling party, the Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF). He has provided high-value gifts to senior members of the Government of Zimbabwe to gain access to resources and exerts significant control over major sectors of Zimbabwe’s economy. 

  • Tagwirei is designated pursuant to E.O. 13818 for having materially assisted, sponsored, or provided financial, material, or technological support for, or goods or services to or in support of corruption, and the transfer or the facilitation of the transfer of proceeds of corruption. 

Sandra Mpunga (Mpunga), Tagwirei’s wife, has been instrumental in Tagwirei’s business activities. 

  • OFAC designated Mpunga on December 12, 2022 pursuant to E.O. 13469 for being the spouse of Tagwirei and is designating her pursuant to E.O. 13818 for having acted or purported to act for or on behalf of Sakunda Holdings.

Tagwirei and Mpunga are the sole beneficial owners of Sakunda Holdings, a Zimbabwean firm that has facilitated state corruption. 

  • Sakunda Holdings was designated on August 5, 2020 pursuant to E.O. 13469 for being owned or controlled by, or for having acted or purported to act for or on behalf of Tagwirei. Sakunda Holdings is designated pursuant to E.O. 13818 for having materially assisted, sponsored, or provided financial, material, or technological support for, or goods or services to or in support of corruption, and for being owned or controlled by, or having acted or purported to act for or on behalf of Tagwirei. 

Fossil Agro is a subsidiary of Sakunda Holdings and has provided it with material support. 

  • OFAC designated Fossil Agro on December 12, 2022 pursuant to E.O. 13469 for providing material, logistical, or technical support to the Government of Zimbabwe. Fossil Agro is designated pursuant to E.O. 13818 for having materially assisted, sponsored, or provided financial, material, or technological support for, or goods or services to or in support of Sakunda Holdings.

The director of Fossil Agro and longtime business partner of Tagwirei, Obey Chimuka (Chimuka), sits on the board and serves as director of several Tagwirei-owned companies.

  • Chimuka was designated on December 12, 2022 pursuant to E.O. 13469 for acting for or on behalf of Fossil Agro, Fossil Contracting and Tagwirei, and is designated pursuant to E.O. 13818 for being owned or controlled by, or having acted or purported to act for or on behalf of, Tagwirei.

Chimuka owns Fossil Contracting, which has received Government of Zimbabwe contracts that have facilitated acts of corruption. 

  • Fossil Contracting was designated on December 12, 2022 pursuant to E.O. 13469 for providing material, logistical, or technical support to the Government of Zimbabwe, and is designated pursuant to E.O. 13818 for being owned or controlled by, or having acted or purported to act for or on behalf of, Chimuka.

SECURITY OFFICIALS 

Under the leadership of Mnangagwa and Zimbabwe’s First Vice-President Constantino Chiwenga (Chiwenga), Zimbabwe’s security forces have engaged in the violent repression of political activists and civil society organizations. Mnangagwa’s reelection was marred by fraud, the deployment of groups who intimidated voters, and the use of government-organized “ferret teams.” Since the election, the ferret teams, comprising intelligence, police, and military personnel, have likely been involved in the abduction of up to 12 individuals associated with civil society organizations or opposition parties, including Tapfumanei Masaya, who was found dead on November 13, 2023. Abductees report being pushed into vehicles, beaten and stripped naked, injected with unknown substances, threatened with retaliation, and later dumped on the roadside outside of Harare. In 2019, ferret teams reportedly abducted and assaulted more than 50 people. Opposition supporters also claim to have been tortured by security officials, including being stripped, beaten, and whipped at a Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) station.

  • Chiwenga, who has been Zimbabwe’s Vice President since 2018, was originally listed in the Annex to E.O. 13288 of March 6, 2003 and the Annex to E.O. 13391 on November  23, 2005. Chiwenga is designated pursuant to E.O. 13818 for being a foreign person who is or has been a leader or official of an entity, including any government entity, that has engaged in, or whose members have engaged in, serious human rights abuse relating to the leader’s or official’s tenure.

Zimbabwe’s Defense Minister Oppah Muchinguri (Muchinguri) is responsible for overseeing Zimbabwe’s Defense Forces and is the chair of the national Joint Operation Command. Under her leadership, Zimbabwe’s military personnel have engaged in violent repression. 

Godwin Matanga (Matanga) is the Commissioner-General of the ZRP. Under his leadership, ZRP members have participated in ferret team activities. 

  • Matanga, who has led the ZRP since 2018, was identified in the Annex to E.O. 13391 on November  23, 2005 and is designated pursuant to E.O. 13818 for being a foreign person who is or has been a leader or official of an entity that has, or whose members have, engaged in serious human rights abuse relating to the leader’s or official’s tenure.

Stephen Mutamba (Mutamba) has been a Deputy Commissioner-General of the ZRP since at least 2019. Under his leadership, ZRP members have engaged in the violent oppression of political opposition.

  • OFAC designated Mutamba on September 15, 2022 pursuant to E.O. 13469 for his role in undermining Zimbabwe’s democratic processes and institutions. He is designated pursuant to E.O. 13818 for being a foreign person who is or has been a leader or official of an entity, including any government entity, that has engaged in, or whose members have engaged in, serious human rights abuse relating to the leader’s or official’s tenure.

Walter Tapfumaneyi (Tapfumaneyi) has been the Deputy Director General of Zimbabwe’s Central Intelligence Organization (CIO) since 2020. He reportedly answers directly to Mnangagwa, and led the campaign to disrupt the 2023 electoral process through his leadership of ruling party-affiliated groups. He is also alleged to have been personally involved in past kidnappings.  

  • Tapfumaneyi is designated pursuant to E.O. 13818 for being a foreign person who is or has been a leader or official of an entity, including any government entity, that has engaged in, or whose members have engaged in, serious human rights abuse relating to the leader’s or official’s tenure.

Owen Ncube (Ncube) was Zimbabwe’s Minister of State Security from 2018 to 2022, during which time he ordered security services to identify, abduct, and mistreat individuals assessed to be supporters of a Zimbabwean opposition group. He was recently reappointed to government as the Minister of State for Midlands Provincial Affairs. He is reported to lead a notoriously violent group that is alleged to be responsible for attacks and killings around Kwekwe, Zimbabwe.

  • Ncube was designated on March 11, 2020 pursuant to E.O. 13469 for being responsible for, or participating in, human rights abuses related to political repression in Zimbabwe. Ncube is designated pursuant to E.O. 13818 for being a foreign person that is responsible for or complicit in, or has directly or indirectly engaged in, serious human rights abuse. 

SANCTIONS IMPLICATIONS

Building upon the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act, E.O. 13818 was issued on December 20, 2017, in recognition that the prevalence of human rights abuse and corruption that have their source, in whole or in substantial part, outside the United States, had reached such scope and gravity as to threaten the stability of international political and economic systems. Human rights abuse and corruption undermine the values that form an essential foundation of stable, secure, and functioning societies; have devastating impacts on individuals; weaken democratic institutions; degrade the rule of law; perpetuate violent conflicts; facilitate the activities of dangerous persons; and undermine economic markets. The United States seeks to impose tangible and significant consequences on those who commit serious human rights abuse or engage in corruption, as well as to protect the financial system of the United States from abuse by these same persons. 

As a result of today’s Global Magnitsky action, all property and interests in property of the designated persons described above that are in the United States or in the possession or control of U.S. persons are blocked and must be reported to OFAC. In addition, any entities that are owned, directly or indirectly, individually or in the aggregate, 50 percent or more by one or more blocked persons are also blocked. Unless authorized by a general or specific license issued by OFAC, or exempt, OFAC’s regulations generally prohibit all transactions by U.S. persons or within (or transiting) the United States that involve any property or interests in property of designated or otherwise blocked persons. 

In addition, financial institutions and other persons that engage in certain transactions or activities with the sanctioned entities and individuals may expose themselves to sanctions or be subject to an enforcement action. The prohibitions include the making of any contribution or provision of funds, goods, or services by, to, or for the benefit of any designated person, or the receipt of any contribution or provision of funds, goods, or services from any such person. 

The power and integrity of OFAC sanctions derive not only from OFAC’s ability to designate and add persons to the SDN List, but also from its willingness to remove persons from the SDN List consistent with the law. This transition in sanctions authorities demonstrates OFAC’s commitment to review and assess sanctions to ensure the integrity of designations and provides a clear and targeted approach to hold egregious human rights offenders and corrupt actors accountable. The ultimate goal of sanctions is not to punish, but to bring about a positive change in behavior. This sanctions transition is an opportunity for those designated to acknowledge their responsibility for sanctionable conduct and take steps to correct their behavior.

For information concerning the process for seeking removal from an OFAC list, including the SDN List, please refer to OFAC’s Frequently Asked Question 897 here. For detailed information on the process to submit a request for removal from an OFAC sanctions list, please click here.

Click here for more information on the individuals and entities designated today.

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Official news published at https://home.treasury.gov/news/press-releases/jy2154

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