via Mugabe in U-turn – DailyNews Live by Fungi Kwaramba 21 FEBRUARY 2014
In a major and embarrassing U-turn, President Robert Mugabe has exonerated former Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation (ZMDC) chairperson Godwills Masimirembwa for allegedly soliciting a $6 million bribe from Ghanaian investors in the Gye Nyame Resources (GNR) diamond concession.
This comes as the Zanu PF leader had in September “outed” the Mabvuku-Tafara parliamentary aspirant for taking money from William Ato Essien’s Bill Minerals (Bill).
The about-face inadvertently, forced the 90 year-old president to adopt “a cautious approach” in tackling the latest corruption scandals engulfing his administration.
“They (Ghanaians) had given the story that they had brought some… was it $5 or $6 million yakatorwa (that was taken), (but)…they were busy smuggling gold and selling it vachitova ne (they had an) arrangement with a South African group. That is why one of the two was arrested,” Mugabe said in a pre-birthday interview aired on State television yesterday.
“The other pleaded innocent, he said he was even ignorant, he said he was not related to the other one who was arrested, kutinyepera (they lied to us), when the one who was arrested is a brother, except anababa ndivo vakasiyana chete (They have different fathers),” he added.
Mugabe’s admission that the Ghanaians were fraudsters vindicates the Daily News, which last year ran a series of stories exposing Essien and his partner.
And as Zimbabweans tried to digest the meaning, and implications of the latest revelations, attention has shifted to government’s vetting methods or processes of its investment partners, especially in view of Mugabe’s stinging remarks and assessment of Kingsley Ghansah.
In the interview, the Zanu PF leader made it abundantly clear that Essien and company were of a dubious background, and his partner was involved in some really unsavoury activities, including gold smuggling, which led to his five-year conviction in April last year, as first revealed by the Daily News.
Crucially, Mugabe suggested that the Ghanaian “tycoon” was not entirely honest about his banking credentials and had reportedly used his First Capital Plus micro-finance company in Harare to further his usurious activities here.
Again this was revealed by the Daily News during the paper’s investigation into the scam.
And as the GNR bribery saga played out after the Zanu PF leader’s shock remarks late last year, Essien and company tried to blame the diamond mining company’s woes on “stolen capital” by Masimirembwa and his colleagues.
However, sources told the Daily News late last year that the Bill owner was actually trying to use cash from bullion purchases to fund the diamond venture – also partly owned by the ZMDC and a police trust.
And as accusations, and counter-accusations about what went wrong at the Chiadzwa-based mining entity were flying around, it was Manson Mnaba’s board which first drilled holes into the Ghanaians’ story by revealing that Essien’s company had not invested anything beyond $8,5 million.
After a series of forensic audits, Masimirembwa and the GNR board were vindicated after the Ghanaians failed to take up offers for a formal police report – even when a team of nine detectives was dispatched to Accra last year. As it is, government has decided to cut ties with Bill.
And as the GNR saga deepened, it also turned out that a group of local businessmen – operating under the Dantor consortium and led by Blessmore Chanakira – were the ones who had actually tried to rescue the mine by pouring $10 million.
Meanwhile, Mugabe said in the wide-ranging interview – also touching on rampant factionalism in his party, his intention to fight on despite old age and ill-health speculation – that his government is going to descend heavily on corruption.
In particular, he singled out Premier Service Medical Aid Society and Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation bosses as shameful recipients of “outrageous” salaries when the nation was going through difficult times.
Since the attainment of independence from Britain in 1980, Zimbabwe has known only one leader and in his traditional interview the Zanu PF leader is not ready to throw in the towel yet.
“But why should it (succession) be discussed when it is not due? Is it due?,” he said.
“The leadership still exists that runs the country. In other words I am still there.
“The people can discuss it if they want, but the moment they start discussing it they go into factions and then you find the party dividing itself and so why discuss it when it is not due?”
The country holds its next election in 2018 and by then Mugabe will be 94.