Monday, January 7, 2008

The German Company with Zimbabwean Blood on Its Hands

22 June 2008 · Posted by David Coltart ·
By Iain Dale
22 June 2008

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 Senator 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.

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