IT has been a terrible, terrible last few months for Zimbabwe, and all indicators point to further socio-economic deterioration as a sense of hopelessness grips the citizens.
Even for the greatest optimist, the course Zimbabwe is taking must be very worrying.The anti-corruption drive, which President Emmerson Mnangagwa said will be a cornerstone of his rule after toppling Robert Mugabe in a military coup, is off track at a time the economy is imploding.
Inflation is soaring and prices of basic commodities are now beyond the reach of most Zimbabweans. Currency volatility is persisting and, broadly speaking, the macro-economic environment is worsening.
On Mnangagwa’s watch, corruption has grown deeper roots. It is now on steroids.Many believe, he is surrounded by criminals, who are pocketing public funds by riding on their proximity to power.
The ongoing Covid-19 procurement scandal which saw the government awarding a US$60 million tender to Drax International, fronted by Delish Nguwaya, without going to tender, has dealt a hammer blow to Mnangagwa’s “zero tolerance to corruption” facade.
Nguwaya has been linked to Mnangagwa’s son Collins and evidence that they are acquaintances is in the public domain.Mnangagwa’s advisor Kuda Tagwirei—who accompanies him on foreign trips—is expanding his business empire at lightning speed. Tagwirei’s flagship company, Sakunda Holdings, failed to properly account for close to US$3 billion disbursed under the controversial Command Agriculture programme, according to Auditor-General Mildred Chiri’s 2018 report and corroborated by Lands and Agriculture ministry senior officials in parliament.
This has not stopped Tagwirei’s company Landela Investments from raking in millions of dollars through acquiring buses for Zupco in a murky arrangement. Landela sold each of the 162 buses it bought from Xiamen Golden Dragon Bus Company in China for US$212 962 despite buying at US$58 900.
Zimbabwe’s international re-engagement drive has all but collapsed as seen by increased hostility between Harare and Western capitals. The United States has extended sanctions against Zimbabwe, arguing the government’s policies continue to pose an “unusual and extraordinary” threat to its foreign policy.
Western diplomats accredited to Harare have also been vocal in condemning the government’s crackdown on the opposition, abductions and human rights abuses, partisan deployment of security forces, threats on journalists, property rights violations and the rise in corruption.
This week, United Nations human rights experts urged the government to immediately end a pattern of disappearances and torture. Mnangagwa, on the other hand, accused foreign powers of collaborating with the opposition to destabilise the country.Does this not sound familiar? It appears we are back to the Mugabe-era settings.
Less than three years after usurping power, Mnangagwa can no longer claim to be serious about reforms or combating corruption. In the court of public opinion, he is actually aiding and abetting corruption.
After all, a fish rots from the head down.