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Dysfunctions Last Updated: Aug 9, 2018 - 12:26:50 PM


Lord Hain was the Blairite famed for fighting injustice in Africa – so why IS he now helping tycoon who cuts deals with Zimbabwe’s violent regime to rub shoulders with Harry and Meghan?
By Guy Adams, Daily Mail 8/8/18
Aug 8, 2018 - 10:21:14 AM

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There’s no bigger draw in London right now than Prince Harry and his new bride Meghan, so the duo’s official visit to the Southbank Centre to celebrate the centenary of Nelson Mandela’s birth last month was the hottest ticket in town.

Wearing a raffish beard (him) and a £623 trench dress by House of Nonie (her), the royal couple were shown a new exhibition of photos and memorabilia connected to the late South African statesman, whom they both regard as a personal hero. At their side throughout was Lord Hain, the Blair-era Cabinet minister who cut his political teeth as a militant anti-apartheid campaigner in the Seventies and Eighties and later developed an affectionate friendship with Mandela.

As the couple’s official escort, it fell to the Labour peer to wax lyrical about some of the items on display and also introduce them to assembled members of the great and good who’d been lucky enough to secure coveted invitations.

Guests included a doughty selection of Hain’s fellow travellers in the anti-apartheid struggle, along with some of Mandela’s nearest and dearest, such as Zamaswazi Dlamini-Mandela, his granddaughter, Andrew Mlangeni, a fellow inmate in the Robben Island prison where Mandela spent 18 years, and Thembi Thambo, South Africa’s High Commissioner to the UK whose father Oliver was a famous African National Congress politician.

So far, so jolly.

 

Prince Harry and his new bride Meghan made an official visit to the Southbank Centre to celebrate the centenary of Nelson Mandela’s birth last month. At their side throughout was Lord Hain, who cut his political teeth as an anti-apartheid campaigner in the 70s and 80s

Prince Harry and his new bride Meghan made an official visit to the Southbank Centre to celebrate the centenary of Nelson Mandela’s birth last month. At their side throughout was Lord Hain, who cut his political teeth as an anti-apartheid campaigner in the 70s and 80s
Yet also in the room (but strangely absent from the list of attendees circulated to journalists) was Zunaid Moti, pictured, one of South Africa’s most colourful businessmen

Yet also in the room (but strangely absent from the list of attendees circulated to journalists) was Zunaid Moti, pictured, one of South Africa’s most colourful businessmen

Yet also in the room (but strangely absent from the list of attendees circulated to journalists) was an altogether more curious — not to mention contentious — addition to the hallowed guest list.

His name was Zunaid Moti. And despite being entirely unknown to the vast majority of attendees, he turns out to be one of South Africa’s most colourful businessmen.

A sharp-suited fortysomething from Johannesburg — who likes to be photographed with his shirt unbuttoned almost to his navel — he’s known for his flamboyant personality and Lamborghini sports cars.

Moti has, over the past 15 years, turned a low-profile family car firm into a global business empire, with interests in such seemingly unrelated industries as property, mining, agriculture and security.

Like many a self-made tycoon, he has also, over the course of this remarkable journey, shown himself to be as adept at generating messy scandals as he is at making fast money.

Last summer, for example, it emerged that Interpol had put out a warrant for Moti’s arrest over an alleged fraud connected to a business deal involving a Russian financier and a pink diamond worth 500 million South African rand (£29 million).

Meanwhile, a few years ago, to cite another episode, he was arrested and charged with conspiracy to commit murder following a violent attack on a businessman, Naeem Cassim.

We shall look at these and other incidents (in which, it must be stressed, Moti denies all wrongdoing) in more detail later.

But first, a question: why was this rich but highly controversial entrepreneur of Indian extraction, who boasts no obvious connection with either Nelson Mandela or the anti-apartheid struggle, rubbing shoulders with the Duke and Duchess of Sussex at last month’s bash?

Or, to put things another way: how did a man with his somewhat controversial track record find himself basking in the reflected glory of not just the British Royal Family, but also the most revered statesman in Africa’s history?

The answer, it turns out, is very straightforward: Zunaid Moti just happens to be paying large amounts of cash to the aforementioned Labour peer, Lord Hain.

Specifically, back in March, he agreed to hire the 68-year-old British politician — who, like so many former ministers, now leverages contacts and skills gained in office to earn a shilling as a ‘consultant’ — to work as a senior adviser to his rambling business conglomerate, the Moti Group.

Among other things, this led Moti to sponsor the Southbank’s Mandela exhibition, allowing him not just to attend the royal tour, but also to throw a party there the night before.

‘Hain gave a big speech, in which he thanked Moti not once but twice, and spent a long time plugging a new book Hain’s written about Mandela,’ recalls a guest. Zunaid Moti just happens to be paying large amounts of cash to the aforementioned Labour peer, Lord Hain, who work as a senior adviser to his rambling business conglomerate, the Moti Group

Zunaid Moti just happens to be paying large amounts of cash to the aforementioned Labour peer, Lord Hain, who work as a senior adviser to his rambling business conglomerate, the Moti Group

‘I later discovered that Moti has personally purchased 500 copies of the same book, to donate to schools, so the relationship is clearly mutually beneficial.’

On paper, a major part of Hain’s job involves spin: helping burnish the Moti Group and its founder’s somewhat mixed reputation.

His past work opposing white minority rule means he’s still held in great esteem by many black South Africans, and a company spokesman said at the time of his appointment that it was hoped he might ‘change the media perception of us’.

Another important part involved lobbying. Hain became an ex-officio board member of African Chrome Fields, a Moti firm seeking to expand business operations in Zimbabwe, and his political nous was promptly put to great use helping it build bridges with the troubled country’s kleptocratic government.

In June, to this end, Hain travelled to Harare to attend chummy business meetings between the mining company and Emmerson Mnangagwa, the President who achieved power after Robert Mugabe was removed via a bloodless coup last year, and was elected last week.

Mnangagwa, known as ‘The Crocodile’ because of his political cunning and ruthlessness, seems an odd person for a human rights campaigner of Hain’s standing to be breaking bread with. He has been associated with a series of atrocities during his long and lucrative career.

As intelligence chief under Mugabe in the early Eighties, he oversaw the massacre of up to 20,000 residents of Matabeleland thought to be disloyal to governing party Zanu-PF. Then as justice minister in the Nineties, he was the architect of a land reform programme which saw white-owned farms violently seized, crippling Zimbabwe’s economy in the process.

More recently, in 2008, he supervised a wave of violence that saw the opposition Movement for Democratic Change withdraw from the election.

For these and other crimes Mnangagwa was, like several senior figures in Mugabe’s murderous government, targeted by U.S. and EU sanctions.

Back then, the sanctions were vociferously supported by, among others, one Peter Hain, who declared his support for ‘tough sanctions . . . including stopping all international travel by this ruling clique’, and called for Britons to boycott Zimbabwean products in supermarkets and ‘isolate them from international sport’.

In 2008, Hain also voiced criticism of Anglo American, a British mining firm which invested there when, as he sternly put it, ‘mini-genocides are happening across the country’.

All of which made it somewhat strange to see him — a decade later, having retired from front-line politics — taking the shilling of a different mining firm seeking to cash in on what (judging by recent evidence) remains a highly repressive dictatorship.

Asked about this apparent contradiction by South African newspapers, Hain said at the time that his role at the Moti Group, for which his exact remuneration remains secret, ‘is partly to assist the process whereby Zimbabwe turns away from its Mugabe past and is liberated from poverty, state-sponsored corruption and oppression’.

If so, it hasn’t been much of a success. Mnangagwa’s troops were last week shooting opposition activists who decided to protest over an election they regarded as rigged. Several died. In June Hain, pictured in 2016, travelled to Harare to attend chummy business meetings between a mining company and Zimbabwe's President Emmerson Mnangagwa

In June Hain, pictured in 2016, travelled to Harare to attend chummy business meetings between a mining company and Zimbabwe's President Emmerson Mnangagwa. Mnangagwa, known as ‘The Crocodile’ because of his political cunning and ruthlessness, seems an odd person for a human rights campaigner to be breaking bread with

Mnangagwa (pictured), known as ‘The Crocodile’ because of his political cunning and ruthlessness, seems an odd person for a human rights campaigner to be breaking bread with

For all that, perhaps the greatest source of bafflement to followers of Hain’s life and times was the fact that he’d got into bed with Mr Moti in the first place.

Hain is, after all, the Nairobi-born son of white anti-apartheid activists forced to emigrate from South Africa during his childhood, who built an entire career on the entirely worthy basis that personal principles must never, ever be sacrificed in exchange for cash.

In the Seventies he led direct-action protesters who halted the visits of Springbok rugby and Afrikaaner cricket teams by digging up pitches, chaining themselves to coaches and gluing closed the locks on the hotel room doors of visiting athletes.

Throughout the Eighties he also endorsed boycotts of South African products, and protests against British firms such as Barclays bank, which did business in the country.

More recently, he’s been a highly vocal critic of ongoing fraud, bribery and extortion in South Africa.

Only last year, he was reporting HSBC bank to the Financial Conduct Authority over its work for the dubious but very wealthy Gupta family, who have been at the centre of a high-profile corruption scandal.

Thanks to this track record, his decision to work for Moti has raised eyebrows.

Piers Pigou is Southern Africa director for the International Crisis Group, an independent organisation that works to prevent wars.

He said earlier this year: ‘Given Lord Hain’s strident promotion of accountability and transparency in relation to the behaviour of British businesses with the controversial Gupta family in South Africa, one would hope to see a similar standard applied to his business associates’ engagement with Zimbabwe’s military and political leadership.’

Moti’s highly colourful CV stretches back to the early 2000s, when he began to be mentioned in dispatches by the South African press, who described him as a mysterious playboy who seemed to have made money via property investments and by providing finance to people who wished to buy luxury cars.

In 2008, it was reported that one of his firms, FinFuture, had been denied a licence to provide financial services because it failed to meet fit and proper requirements.

And in 2010, it emerged that his companies had run up debts of £60 million with Investec asset managers, which, it was claimed, he was unable to pay back. (A settlement deal was later reached and Investec remain his bankers.)

Later that year, the City of Johannesburg filed a civil suit for the restitution of 33 properties it claimed were fraudulently sold and then resold to two property firms in which Moti was a director.

Friends say he denies any role in the alleged fraud, and is giving evidence in the forthcoming trial of those accused of perpetrating it.

Then, in 2011, Moti and several associates were charged with conspiracy to commit murder, following a violent attack on a businessman called Naeem Cassim.

Moti was freed on bail, and in November 2012 the case against him was dropped.

His friends argue that the arrest stemmed from a ‘dirty tricks’ campaign organised by a rival.

Fast-forward to 2013, and a court case saw Moti accused of bribing police officials to obtain firearms.
In 2008, Hain also voiced criticism of a British mining firm which invested in Zimbabwe when, as he sternly put it, ‘mini-genocides are happening across the country’. All of which made it somewhat strange to see him taking the shilling of a different mining firm a decade later

In 2008, Hain also voiced criticism of a British mining firm which invested in Zimbabwe when, as he sternly put it, ‘mini-genocides are happening across the country’. All of which made it somewhat strange to see him taking the shilling of a different mining firm a decade later

A witness statement from an employee at a store called Dave Sheer Guns, alleged: ‘Moti chose a Protecta shotgun, a Maverick shotgun, a Dashprod semi-automatic rifle and a Heckler & Koch pistol’ during a visit to the premises, using a permit that he’d obtained by corruptly paying off a senior police officer.

At the time, Moti denied obtaining the guns illegally.

Last year came perhaps the most curious run-in of them all. Interpol issued an international arrest warrant for Moti and several associates, saying they were wanted for fraud in Lebanon.

The affair arose from a mining deal involving a Russian businessman called Alibek Issaev, in which Moti had decided to put up a pink diamond worth 500 million rand as collateral. After the deal concluded, Alibek refused to return the diamond. Moti duly pursued him through the courts. The Russian got the authorities in Lebanon to issue a red notice, claiming Moti had defrauded him.

According to a friend of Moti, the dispute between the two men has since been settled and the Interpol red notice is being cancelled.

Supporters of Moti argue that his various troubles largely stem from naivety rather than malice.

‘Has he made mistakes? Sure. But like anyone who has become very rich very fast, you attract some dubious people,’ says one. ‘A lot of the claims against him have been motivated by malice. In South Africa, people of Indian heritage, like Zunaid Moti, are often targeted by politicians and business rivals who use race as a tool to build mistrust against them.’

As for Hain, a friend says he’s ‘mortified’ anyone might feel his decision to work for Moti is inappropriate.

‘Peter is not the sort of bloke who would be mugged by a dodgy businessman. He’s mortified by the suggestion that his relationship with this guy could be seen negatively.’ The friend said Lord Hain was using his role at the Moti Group to ensure proper governance procedures were followed there.

South African newspapers have, meanwhile, reported that Hain only agreed to join the firm after a well–known local anti-corruption campaigner named Paul O’Sullivan had closely examined its practices and given the company a ‘clean bill of health’.

O’Sullivan told them he’d done ‘due diligence’ on the firm on behalf of Hain and concluded that ‘the problem with Moti is that he doesn’t manage media very well. He’s his own worst enemy’.

Yet, bizarrely, the same Paul O’Sullivan a few years previously publicly described Moti as a ‘gangster’ and a ‘thug’ and predicted that he would end up in prison. At some point, however, he changed his mind. Today, he’s on Moti’s payroll, too.

Lord Hain, who lists numerous other valuable consultancies in his declaration on the register of Lords Interests, recently told The Times: ‘I act for the Moti Group in an advisory capacity, working with the company and its leadership on a shared commitment to transparency in business and politics.

‘The company has created 4,000 jobs, 1,500 of which are in the Midlands region of Zimbabwe, which has one of the highest rates of unemployment and poverty. As a life-long campaigner against . . . corruption, I’m pleased to assist where I can in any mission that builds a new Zimbabwe.’

Maybe so. But would his idealistic younger self be quite so ‘pleased’ at the way this veteran Blairite now chooses to earn a living?


Source:Ocnus.net 2018

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