ED ally in coup plot storm

Harare-PRESIDENT Emmerson Mnangagwa’s Belarusian business broker Alexander Zingman has said his arrest in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) last month was triggered by “false security reports” that he had flown to the central African country to plot a coup against President Félix Antoine Tshisekedi’s government.

Zingman, an alleged arms dealer whom the Zanu PF leader appointed Zimbabwe’s honorary consul to Belarus in 2019, flew to Harare soon after his release yesterday, where he told journalists that his DRC trip and private meetings with former President Joseph Kabila in Zambia before flying to Lubumbashi were purely for business.

He was arrested and detained for 12 days together with his business partners Paulo Persico and DRC national Moisi Kapende.

“The Press in DRC was awash with information that we were arms dealers and that we were in that country to train the armed forces to conduct a coup. This detail is showing that everything had been prepared and our arrest and detention was because we were victims of false information provided to DRC security forces,” Zingman said.

“We did not go to DRC to conduct any military deals or training. But we were there at the invitation of Moisi Kapende, who has a foundation called Moisi Kapende Agricultural Foundation, a big agricultural venture in Lubumbashi.

“He (Kapende) met us at the airport. When we were arrested, the security forces wanted to cross-check our personalities after the false information. We were then taken from Lubumbashi to Kinshasa, where we spent 12 days in detention being cross-examined until we were cleared,” he said.

“They did not know that we met (former President) Joseph Kabila. It is us who told them upon our arrest that we met Kabila twice last year and this year. The first time was at his farm in Lubumbashi, and the second time, it was at his other farm in Kinshasa.”

He added: “We are not arms dealers or criminals. Our hope is to know who supplied that false information to the DRC security forces. It is good that our business profile was cleared by the DRC security agencies.”

Zingman, a dual United States and Belarus citizen, has been photographed many times with Mnangagwa, who has also used his private jet.

On why they decided to fly to Zimbabwe soon after release, Zingman said: “Our itinerary was that we were coming to Harare the next day at 7am, where we had other business meetings. That is why we came here because it was part of the plans that we had.”

He, however, declined to disclose the nature of his business trip nor the officials he will be meeting.

He shot down reports that Mnangagwa’s highly-publicised State visit to Belarus in January 2019 was meant to seal arms deals, saying the Zanu PF leader was on a mission to secure agricultural equipment.

“No, President Mnangagwa was invited by the President of Belarus (Alexander Lukashenko). This had nothing to do with a military visit. He (Mnangagwa) visited agricultural factories that produce tractors, trucks, produce silos, as well as mining companies,” Zingman said.

“So far, Hwange Colliery and the Zimbabwe Consolidated Diamond Company have benefited from dump trucks supplied by Belarus. It was an agricultural visit by Mnangagwa and I am Zimbabwe’s honorary consul in Belarus, which means I am the person who conducts business between the two countries. Military issues were not involved,” he said.

Mnangagwa’s visit came two years after ascending to power through a military coup.

Zingman has been instrumental in the signing of several agreements between Mnangagwa’s administration and Lukashenko.

They cover various sectors of the economy, including education and training, science and technology, agriculture, legal issues, construction of road and rail network under a tripartite arrangement involving Zimbabwe, Belarus and China to link the Indian and Atlantic oceans across southern Africa.

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