Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe security manager Cleopas Chidodo, who featured prominently in the documentary, is now backtracking on his claims that former first lady Grace Mugabe smuggled diamonds and ivory worth millions of dollars for self-enrichment.
Chidodo told Al Jazeera’s undercover reporters that Grace used her position to smuggle diamonds and ivory out of the country without the late former president Robert Mugabe’s knowledge.
Chidodo initially revealed how planes would be sent to diamond mines where the finest gems would be handpicked and flown to Dubai via Harare International Airport (now Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport).
Chidodo said Grace was involved in ivory trafficking, with poachers deployed to kill elephants and then ivory being flown out of the country as cargo, raking in millions in the process.
“She wanted to take things out and Mugabe did not know,” Chidodo said during Al Jazeera’s Gold Mafia documentary.
“They would go out there and kill elephants and stuff like that. Poachers would then prepare the ivory.
“It would come to the airport as cargo in big containers, if the ivory comes and the supervisor asks, they will just say it is for the first family and no one will ask further.”
He added: “The plane goes to diamond mines and they select some nice diamonds to put in the plane. The plane will come from the diamond mine and go straight to Dubai, no papers, no what.
“They were making money, they made a lot of money.”

“I wish to render my unconditional apologies to Dr Grace Mugabe and the entire former first family for the falsehoods I mentioned about them in the said episode,” Cleopas Chidodo says in the opening minutes of the video.

“I wish the general public to know that it is untrue that Dr Grace Mugabe did the various illegal things that I mentioned in the video. Specifically, it is untrue that Dr Grace Mugabe killed elephants for ivory. It is untrue that Dr Grace Mugabe smuggled said ivory in hoards of containers through Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport. It is untrue that Dr Grace Mugabe would send a plane to Chiadzwa mining fields to collect diamonds and smuggle them outside of Zimbabwe. It is untrue that Dr Grace Mugabe devised a scheme to smuggle minerals and ivory behind the late former President Robert Mugabe’s back. It is untrue that the former first family made a lot of money smuggling minerals outside the country,” he added.

“I wish to clarify that I never willingly presented myself to provide any information to Al Jazeera news network. The individuals who secretly recorded me had actually approached me intending to offer my family scholarships to study abroad. It was in this meeting that the subject changed, and they revealed to my shock that they actually intended on smuggling minerals out of Zimbabwe,” he said.

“I wish to state that the time of the meeting and indeed the recordings, my mental faculties had been manipulated by what I assume to be drinks spiked by a substance to the extent that I do not even recall saying the said statements, even though I acknowledge that the video shows me to do so,” he added.