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Govt officials, CIO in visa scam

Government officials are using companies and fake documentation processed in neighbouring countries to apply for British visas, say informed sources.

Ignatius Chombo
Ignatius Chombo

This is despite the European Union suspending targeted measures against Zanu (PF) officials such as army generals, senior intelligence official and police officers.

President Robert Mugabe and his wife Grace remain on the list of individuals prohibited from visiting most western countries. On Tuesday, Grace was denied a visa to travel for the April 2-3 EU-Africa summit to be held in Brussels.

Information given to The Zimbabwean reveals that for fear that their visa applications being rejected, officials are presenting documentation through front companies in Botswana and South Africa.

The director of a Harare-based company, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said:

“We are travelling to the UK with government officials and because they are likely to be denied entry, we are going to have all our visas processed from Botswana. We use our sister company in Botswana and that way our entry is guaranteed,” he said.

The company, which is also believed to have strong links with Local Government Minister Ignatius Chombo and Chitungwiza Town Clerk George Makunde is set to send its delegation to the UK on April 7 for a training workshop. Neither Chombo nor Makunde could be reached for comment.

The company is planning to install water meters in Chitungwiza and its management has travelled to India with the Chombo and senior city council officials from Chitungwiza and Harare.

A highly placed source within the Central Intelligence Organisation, who spoke on condition of anonymity, confirmed that officials from his department used documentation processed in neighbouring countries for their British visa applications.

“Some of the CIOs travel to the UK and they cannot indicate which departments they are coming from because it is highly likely that they will be denied entry,” said the source.

He alleged that there were stringent requirements for officials from his department, saying they were not allowed into the UK because of the ‘nature of their job’.

The Zimbabwean is reliably informed that top government officials who fear being denied visas have been evading the system by claiming in their applications that they work for private companies.

The deputy foreign affairs minister Christopher Mutsvangwa referred all questions to the permanent secretary, Ambassador Joey Bimha, who was not available to comment. The British embassy in Harare had not responded to questions by the time of going to print. The Zimbabwean

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