via Mpofu must give others a chance – DailyNews Live 21 MARCH 2014
Apart from crying in Parliament and calling himself “the most obedient son of President Robert Mugabe”, Obert Mpofu’s continued tenure in cabinet has come under increased scrutiny.
While the Umguza legislator is wealthy — and as compared to the majority of Zimbabweans who are wallowing in abject poverty — Mpofu’s handling of various government portfolios has left a lot to be desired.
The most obedient son’s tenure as Mines minister until the expiry of the GNU spawned allegations that he failed to ensure transparency across the value chain of Marange diamonds, from extraction to the marketing of the gems, which are contributing little to the fiscus, allegedly because of the murky manner in which these resources are being mined and sold.
Mpofu, previously the governor of Matabeleland North Province, was first appointed minister by Mugabe in mid-April 2005 to head the Industry and International Trade portfolio following the March 2005 legislative vote.
Following the 2008 election where his party suffered a devastating electoral defeat, Obiza, as he is affectionately known, was appointed Mines minister in a new coalition government between his Zanu PF and ex-Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s MDC.
He was subsequently appointed to the Transport portfolio.
Critics say before Mugabe decided to retain Mpofu to Cabinet, he should have grilled the minister on the whereabouts of the Chiadzwa diamond money.
By recycling the same deadwood that certainly include Mpofu; Mugabe merely piled misery on newcomers like Walter Chidhakwa, the well-meaning Mining minister who is lost in the maze of opaque diamond dealings and incomprehensible deals.
Not surprisingly, the same old problems are back, haunting Chidhakwa, whom if you hear him speak you will be obliged to conclude he was cut from the same cloth as ex-Finance minister Tendai Biti.
It really boggles the mind how Mugabe, after Mpofu’s well-documented failures at his former ministry, reappointed him minister again. When Temba Mliswa, a Zanu PF legislator, dared ministers to either declare their assets or resign, he was aiming his jab at the fabulously rich Mpofu, a man of many means but humble beginnings.
In a veiled reference to the likes of Mpofu, who owns one of the country’s commercial banks, Mliswa said: “My plea to ministers is that when they think about being in business, they should do so but first resign from their posts.
“There is no way someone can buy a bank in this economic environment. This is the very same money that is being used to divide the people because it is dirty money. Dirty money can always be used for ulterior motives not for sincere motives.”
Mpofu, said to be one of the country’s richest individuals, acquired 100 percent shareholding in Allied Bank back in 2012 when one of his firms injected some $23 million to help rescue the struggling bank.
Mpofu, born in October 1951, started off working as a civil servant until 1985. He then joined Tregers Group in Bulawayo, where he was the managing director from 1985. Tregers Group was one of the successful companies in Bulawayo.
Mpofu was forced to resign from Tregers in 1988 and got a golden handshake he claims he used to start businesses. After getting his golden handshake from Tregers, Mpofu started off his business venture as a pub owner, running the Green Haven in Bulawayo. He went into cattle ranching in 1993 and amassed a massive herd believed to the biggest in Matabeleland North.
A very wealthy man, Mpofu, who says he is the biggest cattle rancher in Matabeleland, claims he has never been poor his whole life.
He is reported to be Mugabe’s main informant and aide in Matabeleland North since the Willowgate car scandal of the 1980s.
He has recently gone on a property buying spree in Bulawayo, where he owns the tallest building, York House, which he bought from Old Mutual.
He has recently been snapping up properties in Victoria Falls at an incredible pace, including supermarkets, houseboats and houses. He claims the houses are for his staff. He graduated from the Zimbabwe Open University recently with a PhD in Policy Studies. Mpofu claims to also hold two diplomas, a bachelor’s degree, and two master’s degrees.
Now placed in the ministry of Transport and Communication, Mpofu still enjoys the unending government perks, safe in the comfort zone.
The national flag carrier, Air Zimbabwe, is still in doldrums. Six months after taking over, Mpofu has not demonstrated how he hopes to turn around the fortunes of Air Zimbabwe, National Railways of Zimbabwe and Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe, among others.
To make matters worse, there is no road infrastructure to talk about. And most importantly, the situation remains as precarious as it was before he took over in 2013.