Sunday, June 22, 2008

The German Company with Zimbabwean Blood On Its Hands

A company with direct links to such household names as The Post Office and the Royal Bank of Scotland is propping up Robert Mugabe's despotic rule in Zimbabwe by printing its bank notes. In the past month, these increasingly worthless notes have been used to bribe officials in the public sector, army, and other public-security services to curry votes for the Mugabe regime, and to pay the security forces and thugs who are implementing Mugabe's reign of terror.

In the weeks prior to the first round of the Presidential election in March, with Zimbabwe's economy collapsing and inflation already running at 100,000 per cent, a German company called Giesecke & Devrient (G&D) ran its printing presses at maximum capacity, delivering 432,000 sheets of banknotes to Mugabe's government each week. The money, equivalent to nearly Z$173 trillion (U.S. $32 million), was then dispersed among targeted voters.

Mugabe has also used currency printed by G&D to pay the thugs who squat on some of the few white-owned farms remaining in the country, and who have undertaken the campaign of electoral cleansing that has seen Zimbabwe's election turn into a blood bath.

G&D has directly contributed to a meltdown in the country. According to the Sunday Times earlier this year, the company is receiving more than $750,000 a week from the Mugabe regime "for delivering notes at the astonishing rate of Z$170 trillion a week." Inflation caused by this reckless currency printing has destroyed once-sustainable food markets and stymied business investment, and has contributed to thousands of deaths a week from malnutrition and disease.

It is obvious that many in the international community would just like the issue to disappear. German Chancellor Angela Merkel has taken a rhetorically strong stance against the Mugabe regime, and has supported EU travel and banking sanctions against its cronies. But her government says that G&D's involvement in Zimbabwe is a private matter...

While the U.S. government has placed effective sanctions on the leaders of the regime in Harare, it is still contracting with G&D's American affiliate to provide security-card and banknote services. (The Treasury Department's latest contract with the company is worth $381,200). It appears that there is no official policy or position on G&D.

G&D could bring Mugabe's campaign of terror to a halt overnight, by turning off the currency flow. If G&D does not take action, both the British Government, the British people and the EU must. They should threaten to deny any future contracts to companies providing direct services to the Mugabe regime. It's appalling, as MDC Shadow Justice Minister David Coltart says, "that a German company is profiting out of Zimbabweans' despair," fueling inflation by printing dollars, "which are then used to fund Mugabe's campaign of repression."

I hope that the British companies that are doing business with G & D are doing so in ignorance. If not they are complicit in the genocide that Mugabe is imposing on his people. The main business partners of G&D according to their Annual Report are The Post Office, Halifax Bank of Scotland, Royal Bank of Scotland, HSBC, Vodaphone and Group4Security. Perhaps you might like to write to them telling them what you think.


Anonymous said...

Hi Ian,

'Genocide' is not an accurate term, as it refers to the killing of a specific ethnic or racial group. It comes from the greek 'genos' meaning 'race'

As bad as it is, voting MDC does not mean you are a different ethnic group and as such the situation cannot be called genocide. Political terror, yes, genocide no.

Just asking for accurate use of language not disputing the events.

Unknown said...

I think you overstate the impact that G&D could have Mugabe's regime. Stopping the flow of new money would certainly stop the regime dishing out money as a reward to it's cronies, but Mugabe and his supporters are wealthy enough to ride out any shortage. Once they've found another unscrupulous printing supplier willing to produce their notes, it's business as usual.

Anonymous said...

If UK, USA, etc tighten sanctions and stop all business dealings with Zimbabwe then the Chinese will just step up their support.

The most effective policy, especially with the Beijing Olympics coming up, would be to put pressure on China to curb Mugabe's excesses and to postpone the Presidential election until it can be conducted fairly.

Anonymous said...

I hope they didn't accept payment in Zimbabwean currency - its not worth the paper its printed on i hear.

Anonymous said...

Oh do stop talking rubbish about "links" and "business partners". Do you mean simply that RBS are customers of the Kraut firm? If so, say so. Cut out the weasel words; you're sounding like a bloody socialist.

Anonymous said...

Unopposed, surely Iain IS correct. We are talking tribes here, which is no different to 'race' in the eyes of tribal warriors!!

Stop trying to be rather stupid when Iain is making a very necessary point. IF companies such as these did not help such regimes, perhaps the poor downtrodden peoples of Africa in general but Zimbabwe in particular would have a chance.

I would also cite CHINA. In this Olympic Year Government's and the useless United Nations should pile as much pressure on China as possible.

Well done Iain for pointing this out. I shall write to the companies. I hope everyone else, including the nitpicking 'unopposed said' will do the same.

Anonymous said...

Surely the most important partner or supplier to target would be whoever is supplying them with the special paper that is required for printing bank notes.

Persuade them to halt supplies for just a week or two and the whole house of cards in Zimbabwe could come tumbling down.

Alternative suppliers would not be easy to find in the short term.

Anonymous said...

Did you see Alan Duncan and Peter Oborne on TV today?

Anonymous said...

a touch hysterical no? if g&d don't print them someone else will, i doubt mugabe would just say oh drat, well there goes that cunning plan. and to tie others who use g&d into the conspiracy is just nonsense. this is a story for the sake of a story, g&d aren't at fault for doing what they are in business to do.

Anonymous said...

A German company printing inflationary currency eh?

Well, they have the most experience.

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately, they aren't listed. Could have had some real fun if they had been.

Anonymous said...

unnoposed. Genocide HAS occured in Zimbabwe - the mass killing in the 1980's of about 20,000 Ndebele by the thugs of the 5th brigade. This was specifically aimed ay crushing support for Nkomo. Now although some people were targetted for being ZAPU supporters, the majority killed were unarmed civilians. "Targeting civilians: During these early weeks, 5 Brigade behaved in a way that shows it had clearly
been trained to target civilians. Wherever troops went they would routinely round up dozens, or even
hundreds, of civilians and march them at gunpoint to a central place, like a school or borehole. There
they would be forced to sing Shona songs praising ZANU-PF, at the same time being beaten with
sticks. These gatherings usually ended with public executions. Those killed could be ex-ZIPRAs,
ZAPU officials, or anybody chosen at random, including women. Large numbers of soldiers were
involved in these events, sometimes as many as two hundred, and often forty or more."

Anonymous said...

Hmm. Dubious though the G&D contract with Zimbabwe is, why do I get the terribly cynical feeling that this is just taking the chance to bash the swarthy European?

Anonymous said...

Come on Iain. Who's feeding you this stuff and why the sudden interest in Zimbabwe?

Not a sheep said...

Did the same company print any of these banknotes?

Anonymous said...

If one can draw a parallel with the effects of sanctions upon South Africa in the era before President Mandela, it is obvious that economic pressure, in the form of withdrawal of investment and corporate presence in the country were effected both by countries and individuals acting as pressure groups, though there was no consensus for most of the time and no coherent global strategy.

Coca Cola sold its operation in SA to a multiracial group of investors, a move indicative of the fact that they were under pressure in the US from the Christian Right to act. There were many such unilateral moves, often predicated on the actions of pressure groups.

Sadly, Britain lagged behind, and who should be the chief lagger, but one Margaret Thatcher, aided and abbetted by Ronald Reagan. They both dragged their feet in facilitating sanctions. Even after the release of Mandela, Thatcher was advocating the easing of sanctions against a state that was still in contravention of the US sponsored anti apartheid act.

But a history of cause and effect can be charted, as the Government of South Africa bowed to international pressure. Sanctions worked!

What it comes down to is the need for Europe and the US to act now, and to act multilaterally. Next, and most importantly, the Labour Government should table a coherent and comprehensive strategy of oppostion, which it has so far signally failed to do. Next, every group, every church, every pony club and Stonewall and the WI etc etc should get together and boycott companies who support the rotten evil Mugabe regime.

AVI said...

I do think your growing series of posts attacking firms that have some link with Mugabe's regime goes perhaps a little over the top, Iain.

I imagine that Mugabe and his cronies have sufficient wealth in other currencies - precious metals and stones for starters - which they would be able to use if the banknote supply dried up.

Having said that, I'm sure there would be some other banknote supplier willing to step up and print the things if G&D didn't. Maybe one under less scrutiny from the Western media, based out in China, say. Would that improve the situation?

I really don't see that G&D is "propping up" the Mugabe 'government' at all; to say so is just scaremongering. We should concentrate on real solutions to the real problems, not search the edges for things which aren't really an issue and blow them up out of all proportion.

Anonymous said...

Political violence is not genocide!

People are being attacked/killed because of political viewpoints NOT because of race. Using the term 'genocide' is indicative of the inaccuracy and hypocrisy of reporting surrounding Zimbabwe and other conflict zones.

The situation in Sudan is genocide, Rwanda was genocide, Zimbabwe is not, it is political violence. There may have been genocide in Zimbabwe in the past, but currently there is political violence.

Genocide is an emotive word used in the wrong context in this sense, and it is interesting that no one gives a fuck about the persecution of the minority Uigur population in northern China (they're muslim so who cares?), the Sudanese, the Chechens, etc etc. They are ethnic, not political conflicts & campaigns so as such it is ignored by western media & so on.

All I'm saying is use accurate language to describe the situation. In Zimbabwe you are ok as long as you vote ZanuPF, in chechnya you are under suspicion if you are chechen.

Using the term 'genocide' suits the west as we can then intervene in a sovereign state. No one makes any effort to call chinese policy in Xianxian or tibet genocide , even though it quite clearly is .

A fiver says when Zimbabwe settles down, no one will make any effort to call chinese policy in tibet 'genocide', but we will describe it as a historical conflict, as we all accept tibet is part of china. Just pointing out our hypocrisy that's all.

Everyone else sees it (Russians, Chinese, Africans, Indians etc.) but we still think that we have some moral high ground to pick and choose what is right and what is wrong and to utilize inaccurate language to emote the response desired.

(ps. my name comes from Gordon and Bob's 'election')

Anonymous said...

sanctions really didn't work with South Africa- what worked was the end of the Cold War. The big parallel is the relations between South Africa and Rhodesia. Rhodesia fell when the South Africans withdrew their air support and police augmentees- and the easy credit, petrol, etc, to force Smith to the negotiating table. Once again, South Africa is the key, what we think is really of very little matter.

Anonymous said...

It is probably the only way that Gordon Brown could recover in the opinion polls and that would be to
invade Zimbabwe. This should not require a large force and that could be backed up with Zimbabwean exiles.

Kicking out Mugabe would be very popular and would do a lot of good too - sadly Gordon will probably not have the bottle.