Zimbabwe’s new President Emmerson Mnangagwa has offered a three-month amnesty for individuals and companies to surrender public funds illegally stashed abroad.
In a statement, he said the government will prosecute those who fail to comply when the amnesty ends in February.
“Such malpractices constitute a very serious economic crime against the people of Zimbabwe,” Mr Mnangagwa said.
Since taking office last week, he has pledged to crack down on corruption.
“Huge sums of money and other assets” have been “illegally externalised by certain individuals and corporates,” the president said in a statement.
“Those affected are thus encouraged to take advantage of the three-month moratorium to return the illegally externalised funds and assets in order to avoid the pain and ignominy of being visited by the long arm of the law,” he added.
“Upon expiry of the three-month window, the government will proceed to effect arrest of all those who would not have complied with this directive and will ensure that they are prosecuted in terms of the country’s laws,” he said.
Mnangagwa, who took over from long ruling Robert Mugabe last week after a military intervention, said the operation had discovered that huge funds were illegally externalised.
Zimbabwe is facing a perennial liquidity crunch which has worsened in recent months leaving banks with little or no cash.
Mnangagwa, 75, was sworn-in last Friday vowing to fight corruption, protect foreign investment and create jobs to help re-build the troubled economy.
Mugabe’s 37-year rule left Zimbabwe with a worthless currency, massive debts, an impoverished population and an estimated unemployment rate of more than 80%. Roads are rutted, many rural communities have no electricity, education is basic and healthcare almost non-existent. A life expectancy of 60 is one of the lowest in the world.
Grace Mugabe, The former secretary, who married the president in 1996, recently bought millions of dollars worth of property and luxury cars in South Africa. Her eldest son, 25-year-old Bellarmine Chatunga, recently enraged Zimbabweans by posting a clip on social media taken in a well-known Johannesburg nightclub showing him pouring a £200 bottle of champagne over a £45,000 watch on a night out in South Africa, boasting that “daddy runs the whole country”.