via ‘Salarygate widens Zanu PF fissures’ – DailyNews Live by Thelma Chikwanha 14 FEBRUARY 2014
Outrageous salaries of heads of parastatals unearthed by the media have touched off a storm which has intensified factional fighting within Zanu PF.
The fingering of high profile personalities like presidential spokesperson George Charamba in the Public Service Medical Aid Society (Psmas) looting spree has sent chills down the spines of many within the party, insiders say.
Even vice president Joice Mujuru was recently caught off side when she attacked the media for unearthing out-of-this-world salaries pocketed by heads of parastatals at a time when at least 60 percent of the population is considered to be poor and earning well below the poverty datum line, according to the United Nations.
Mujuru went on to infer that some within Zanu PF were using the corruption scandals to destroy the party from within.
A senior Zanu PF official who declined to be named told the Daily News was feeling within the Mujuru faction that the Emmerson Mnangagwa faction was leaking the stories to the media, but newspapers have insisted that they have relied on their investigative teams to unearth the scandals.
While respected academic and political analyst Ibbo Mandaza asserts that Mujuru would be the natural contender to the highest office because of the constitutional provisions and the fact that she boasts a strong social base, University of Zimbabwe political science lecturer Shakespear Hamauswa said a social base alone could not secure Mujuru’s position.
On Tuesday, Mujuru, who was officially opening a Mashonaland Central provincial planning workshop in Mazowe, accused the local media of twisting facts to suit their agenda and denied that she condoned corruption, a dramatic volte face from the statement she issued on Saturday calling on the media to back off the parastatals’ corruption story.
A Mujuru faction source said the acting president’s utterances, where she seemingly attacked the media over their role in exposing corruption, were reported out of context.
“Mujuru wanted to say that as a party we do not condone corruption but the media should also be careful because they risked being used by people who want to destroy the party so that they can build their own base and eventually take over the reins when the time comes,” he said.
But Afghanistan-based political analyst Maxwell Saungweme says Mujuru has every right to question why the media, especially the State-controlled Press, has decided to tackle corruption now seeing that it has been going on for decades.
“To me Mujuru as acting president has every right and wisdom to question the motive behind the State media interest in corruption now,” Saungweme said.
“The State media is taking the issue of corruption to play into the Zanu PF succession battle, which Mujuru is right to question. No one condones corruption but when the motives for exposing it are being made a factor in succession battles, then one can say Mujuru is right in her response. After all, the rot at ZBC and other parastatals started way back in 2000 and even covers the years Jonathan Moyo was a minister before. Why then has the State media suddenly taken an interest in this subject?”
Critics of Mujuru, have also accused her of bringing factional politics into government business.
“Government was divided along Zanu PF factional lines before and her utterances at best only serve to expose those existing divisions. Zimbabweans risk being taken for a ride by these exposures and being forced to inadvertently engage in Zanu PF succession debates.”
But Hamauswa says that Mujuru’s utterances may be her way of trying to protect some people.
“Since now we have a one party government, issues happening in Zanu PF will automatically affect the running of the government. Mujuru seems to be sympathising with those who seemingly sympathise with her yet they could be seeking her protection only,” he said.
The political scientist argued that Zimbabwe was where it was today because of corruption and not sanctions as has been alleged by Zanu PF.
Zanu PF spokesperson, Rugare Gumbo thanked the media, both public and private, for their “concerted efforts in bringing this shameful situation to public light.”
‘‘For our part, and for the avoidance of any doubt, we wish to make it known that we will take decisive measures to eradicate corruption in all its forms,” he said in a statement.
“Those involved in corrupt activities must and will face the full wrath of the law and we are determined to make this a reality. We wish, in the circumstances, to urge all government ministries to continue to act in the spirit of Zim Asset, and in the national interest, by carrying out extensive audits in their respective ministries as we believe it will lead to public accountability and instil confidence in the use of public funds.”
Gumbo said Mugabe and the entire party leadership, Mujuru included, were committed to ridding the country of corruption.
“This explains why for us corruption was an election issue and why, like the other issues that really matter to us, it was at the very heart of our election manifesto.