Passports that bestow special privileges — immunity from prosecution and diplomatic pouches — are increasingly being bought by dubious business people. African, Asian and small island nations have been caught in the act.
Flamboyant Prophet Uebert Angel, the founder of the Spirit Embassy: Goodnews Church raised some eyebrows after a document that purportedly shows that he has been appointed an Ambassador made its way onto social media. Coupled with reports that Angel is set to receive a diplomatic passport, this caused a frenzy on social media.
The date of swearing in and official appointment is yet to be announced. Sources say Angel must have paid nearly US$350 000 to secure the much needed document often used to help those trying to evade prosecution, bankruptcy, or conceal their ill-gotten wealth .
Self-proclaimed prophet Shepherd Bushiri’s lawyer handed the document to a SA court purportedly from the Malawian government, stating that Bushiri and his wife were given Malawian diplomatic passports but not diplomatic status.
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Mnangagwa made the decision guided by Section 110 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe, as read in conjunction with Section 204 that vests him such power.
Section 204 reads, “The President may appoint persons to be Ambassadors or other principal representatives of Zimbabwe in other countries or to be accredited to international organisations and may, any time, remove those persons from their posts”.
The charismatic preacher jetted into the country one and half weeks ago to participate in a training programme that covers diplomatic etiquette among other vital requirements for such an ambassadorial role.
The training is in part of the grooming and preparation for the official appointment and swearing in date yet to be announced.
Angel’s Spirit Embassy Ministry has transcended borders and established branches across the world and this global footprint has served as an impetus to attract thousands of Christians from accross the world to Zimbabwe for annual religious pilgrimages ,thus promoting religious tourism.
Such pilgrimages rakes in a lot of foreign currency into the country.
Since the beginning of the first Covid 19 induced national lockdown in March last year, his charity wing Uebert Angel Foundation complemented government efforts in mitigating the effects of the lockdown on Zimbabweans.
TOUCHED BY AN ANGEL: Some of the beneficiaries of Uebert Angel Foundation US$1millon Covid 19 relief fund in Zimbabwe that has been rolled out since April 2020
In April 2020, Angel set aside US$1 million that was to go towards the fight against COVID-19 pandemic in four Southern African countries including Zimbabwe.
The roll out was done under the arms of Uebert Angel Foundation and food distribution across all provinces was conducted.
“The donation is coming through the foundation, which is the charity wing of our structures. We have identified areas of need in Botswana, Zambia and of course Zimbabwe the larger chunk will obviously be channelled to Zimbabwe where our founder comes from and we have since approached relevant government authorities for clearance,” an inside source in the communications department told Zim Morning Post back in April 2020.
The first phase of the roll out saw the foundation donating food hampers, gloves, face masks and hand sanitizers to different groups and less privileged families in Zimbabwe.
“We have had challenges in some regions due to bureaucratic systems and we are happy that in Zimbabwe President Mnangagwa said everyone willing to complement government efforts in the COVID-19 is welcome with his big or small contribution,” he added then.
The Uebert Angel Foundation has also since January 2020, embarked on school fees payment for underprivileged students in rural Zimbabwe and recently launched a scholarship fund for University Students.
Meanwhile, according to government policy, diplomatic and service passports are issued to different categories that include selected senior Government officials, Parliamentarians, Foreign Service officers and their families and eminent persons in the sports, arts and culture, among other sectors.
Diplomatic passports, it seems, are the must-have accessory in 2020 for high-net-worth individuals and some of the world’s most mysterious wheeler-dealers.
Shortcut to impunity
Just a few hundred thousand dollars will often help those trying to evade prosecution, bankruptcy, or conceal their ill-gotten wealth, to buy diplomatic status — and the accompanying travel document.
“Often, there are no agreed criteria for awarding diplomatic passports, so a former elite person who makes a large donation to a political party [can get one],” a source explained, adding that applicants are often not citizens of the awarding country.
In many cases, there is no list kept by host countries about who holds honorary diplomat positions, “It’s a closely-guarded secret,” he added.
Some expressed shock and claimed that it reflected badly on the government for them to appoint Angel as an ambassador. However, others defended the Prophet saying that he deserved to be made an ambassador because of all the good works he is carrying out across the country.
Through his Uebert Angel Foundation, the flamboyant man of god has donated mealie meal and other groceries to thousands of people across Zimbabwe. In one of the more publicized donations, Prophet Uebert Angel donated seven tonnes of maize-meal to First Lady Auxillia Mnangagwa and her Angel of Hope Foundation for onward distribution to the needy.
Despite his, philanthropic works, however, some argued that Prophet Uebert Angel does not deserve to be an ambassador or to have a diplomatic passport.
Below are some of the responses to Uebert Angel’s ambassadorship by Zimbabweans on social media.
I don’t see anything wrong . Can someone explain what’s wrong with this ?
— Lisa Realfun (@RealFun05266982) March 11, 2021