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Emmerson Jnr, Tagwirei wife and associates slapped with sanctions

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) has designated four Zimbabwean individuals and two Zimbabwean entities, and removed seventeen Zimbabweans from the Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons List (SDN List).

The Zimbabwe sanctions program targets human rights abusers and those who undermine democratic processes or facilitate corruption, Treasury said yesterday.

“We urge the Zimbabwean government to take meaningful steps towards creating a peaceful, prosperous, and politically vibrant Zimbabwe, and to address the root causes of many of Zimbabwe’s ills: corrupt elites and their abuse of the country’s institutions for their personal benefit,” said Under Secretary of the Treasury Brian E. Nelson.

“The goal of sanctions is behavior change. Today’s actions demonstrate our support for a transparent and prosperous Zimbabwe.”

Treasury designated Sandra Mpunga, Nqobile Magwizi, Fossil Agro, Fossil Contracting, and Obey Chimuka, for their ties to the previously designated individual Kudakwashe Tagwirei and his company, Sakunda Holdings.

OFAC designated Tagwirei in August 2020 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; and Sakunda for being owned or controlled by Tagwirei.

Tagwirei is said to have utilized his relationships with high-level Zimbabwean officials to gain state contracts and receive favored access to hard currency, including U.S. dollars.

In turn, Tagwirei has 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 U.S. dollars,” Treasury said.

OFAC is also designating Emmerson Mnangagwa, Jr., the son of President Mnangagwa of Zimbabwe.

Sandra Mpunga is Tagwirei’s wife. Together they created Sakunda, which is a neologism of Sandra and Tagwirei’s abbreviated first name, “Kuda”.

Mpunga has served as the executive director of Sakunda and together with Tagwirei is the sole beneficial owner of the company. Mpunga was designated pursuant to E.O. 13469 for being the spouse of Tagwirei.

Magwizi has served as the chief marketing and public relations officer of Sakunda as well as Mpunga’s executive assistant.

Nqobile Magwizi was designated pursuant to E.O. 13469 for acting for or behalf of Sakunda.

Fossil Agro has supplied the Government of Zimbabwe’s Command Agriculture Program, a state farm subsidy largely financed by Sakunda which has failed to account for billions of dollars in disbursements. 

The Government of Zimbabwe awarded Fossil Contracting nearly $40 million in contracts in 2021. Fossil Agro and Fossil Contracting were designated pursuant to E.O. 13469 for providing material, logistical, or technical support to the Government of Zimbabwe.

Chimuka owns Fossil Contracting and is also its director and is the CEO and director of Fossil Agro.

Chimuka is a longtime business partner of Tagwirei and is considered part of Tagwirei’s inner circle.

Chimuka also sits on the board and serves as director of several of Tagwirei’s companies.

Obey Chimuka was designated pursuant to E.O. 13469 for acting for or on behalf of Fossil Agro, Fossil Contracting, and Tagwirei.

Emmerson Mnangagwa, Jr. is President Mnangagwa’s son and has been in charge of the president’s business interests related to Tagwirei. Mnangagwa, Jr. was designated pursuant to E.O. 13391 for being an immediate family member of the Zimbabwean president and OFAC-blocked Emmerson Mnangagwa.