Mugabe's party raised millions from British residents, Foreign Office told

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The Independent Online

Allegations have come to light that a businessman has raised millions of pounds from British residents towards the costs of Robert Mugabe's Zanu-PF re-election campaign, The Independent on Sunday has learnt. And, despite European Union sanctions on Zimbabwe, the Foreign Office has said raising money on behalf of the party in the UK is not illegal.

Allegations have come to light that a businessman has raised millions of pounds from British residents towards the costs of Robert Mugabe's Zanu-PF re-election campaign, The Independent on Sunday has learnt. And, despite European Union sanctions on Zimbabwe, the Foreign Office has said raising money on behalf of the party in the UK is not illegal.

Ironically, President Mugabe has built his election campaign on anti-British rhetoric, and Zimbabwe's own laws - introduced by Zanu-PF to thwart the opposition MDC party - forbid foreign funding of political parties. But the British cash funding his party has done nothing to stem the tide of Mr Mugabe's anti-British rhetoric. At a recent rally he said: "On 31 March we must dig a grave not just six feet, but 12 feet and bury Mr Blair and the Union Jack and write on top 'here lies the latter-day British imperialist and the Union Jack, never again to rise.'"

The UK fund-raising claims came to light after Conservative front-bencher Michael Ancram asked the Foreign Secretary, Jack Straw, what information he had received "concerning the fund-raising mission to the UK earlier this year of Dr Ghulam [sic] Adam from Zimbabwe; what action his department has taken to ensure that there has been no breach of the European Union's restrictive measures against Zimbabwe; and what action can be taken against individuals who may have donated money in contravention of EU restrictions."

The Foreign Office has yet to reply, but it is understood that the claims relate to Dr Gulam Adam, chief executive of the Quest Motors Corporation, one of Zimbabwe's key vehicle assemblers. Quest has had a close business relationship with the Zimbabwean government for years, supplying vehicles to the Zimbabwe National Army.

Dr Adam was in the UK in January, when it is claimed that he raised a reported £2.8m from Zimbabwean Asian business figures living in the UK.

Speaking from Harare, Dr Adam flatly denied the accusation, saying that he had been on annual holiday in the UK. "I've got nothing to do with Zanu-PF. I'm absolutely astounded by that stupid allegation. I'm not aligned to anybody, I'm not a politician, I'm a businessman," he said. He challenged Mr Ancram to make the statement outside Parliament.

The European Union imposed targeted sanctions on Zimbabwe three years ago because of serious human rights violations by the Zanu-PF regime. But a Foreign Office spokesman said that fund-raising for the party in the UK would not in itself be illegal. "Our views on Zanu-PF policies are well known, but if they want to raise money in the UK they can do so as much as the MDC," he said.

EU sanctions prohibit any transactions that make funds available to 95 leading Mugabe associates, but do not prevent money being raised for the party itself.

The Foreign Office was made aware of the claims regarding Dr Adam earlier this year, but, asked what action had been taken, a spokesman said he was "not aware of any". "If it wasn't illegal why would there be an investigation?" he said.

Dr John Makumbe, a leading Zimbabwean political analyst, said: "There is a major loophole in the sanctions and we have pointed out to the EU that Zanu-PF could operate and probably even open an office in London."

Mr Ancram said: "This is truly scandalous. Jack Straw has assured us that the EU sanctions are tough enough. This episode just shows how ridiculous and feeble they really are."

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