Prince Harry’s Mandela tribute marred by links to controversial businessmen

This week, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle visited an exhibition in London that marked 100 years since Nelson Mandela’s birth. The exhibition was sponsored by the Moti Group, a controversial South African business with close links to Zimbabwe’s new president; and is chaired by Peter Hain, a British lord who has been employed by the Moti Group, in part to improve their poor reputation.

Hain — a vocal opponent of the apartheid regime — was responsible for showing the Duke and Duchess of Sussex around the exhibition.

There is no suggestion that the royals were aware of or intended to endorse the Moti Group’s controversial business practises; or the group’s links to senior Zimbabwean officials that have been implicated in serious human rights violations.

These links were explored in a joint investigation by the Mail & Guardian and amaBhungane in March.

The British prince and his actress wife were joined by 92-year-old ANC veteran and former Robben Island prisoner Andrew Mlangeni and Mandela’s granddaughter, Zamaswazi Dlamini-Mandela.

Earlier this year, Lord Hain announced an “alliance” with the Moti Group. Hain confirmed to the Mail & Guardian that this was a “commercial relationship”, but refused to disclose how much he was being paid.

According to Zunaid Moti, chairperson of the Moti Group, Hain was appointed to advise on their chrome mining business in Zimbabwe. Moti also acknowledged that the Moti Group has a poor reputation, and that Hain was expected to “change the media perception of us”.

The Moti Group’s business partners in Zimbabwe include new president, Emmerson Mnangagwa, as well as former army chief-turned-Deputy President Constantino Chiwenga, who led the coup that toppled Robert Mugabe last year. Moti boasts of his close relationship with the new president: “We started to understand Zimbabwe as a Mnangagwa investment, because he was there guiding us in the investment and policies,” he told the Mail & Guardian.

Both Mnangagwa and Chiwenga are the subject of targeted sanctions by the United States, imposed in the early 2000s, which claims that they were involved in efforts “to undermine Zimbabwe’s democratic processes or institutions” and “acts of violence and other human rights abuses against political opponents”.

Zunaid Moti himself is no stranger to scandal.

The most recent incident came last year, when Interpol issued an international arrest warrant for him and several associates. They were wanted for fraud in Lebanon, after a mining deal with a Russian businessperson went sour.

Although these arrest warrants were confirmed in a South African court in August last year, Moti claims they have been withdrawn. Neither Interpol nor the South African Police Service responded to requests to confirm this.

Hain said: “My…new role with the Moti Group, a key business there, is partly to assist the process whereby Zimbabwe turns away from its Mugabe past and is liberated from poverty, state sponsored corruption and oppression.”

Read the full investigation here

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Simon Allison
Simon Allison
Simon Allison is the Africa editor of the Mail & Guardian, and the founding editor-in-chief of The Continent. He is a 2021 Young Africa Leadership Initiative fellow.

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