via Mugabe’s corruption talk: Why is no-one listening? | The Zimbabwean by Tawanda Majoni 24.09.13
President Robert Mugabe lamented the level of corruption in Zimbabwe at a luncheon that followed the official opening of Parliament last week, and lambasted relevant authorities and institutions for lacking the will to deal with it.
He angrily banged the dais and queried why the police had not taken action against Goodwills Masimirembwa, the former Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation chair, over allegations that he had solicited a multi-million bribe from Gye Name, a Ghanaian company that intended to operate in Marange.
The rest, of course, is history. The police are now sniffing hard around Masimirembwa’s neck as though Mugabe’s remarks were what they needed to wake up from their apparent slumber. I am not very sure about the wisdom or tact of directly naming Masimirembwa in that public platform, but what is clear is that the Old Man’s remarks placed a lot of pressure on the police – who are now running around like headless chickens.
I am not only concerned about the clear absence of tact in singling out Masimirembwa in Mugabe’s rant, but also the obvious duplicity and incoherence of the anti-graft luncheon broadside. Yes, we need to talk in the strongest terms against corruption, which has become such an institutionalised malaise in Zimbabwe, but where the messenger ill handles his chore, the message loses its essence.
To start with, I don’t know why Mugabe felt it prudent to limit his direct reference to corruption to Masimirembwa. It is clear that corruption in this country, particularly where diamonds are concerned, is a narrative that involves a myriad of characters and a web of forces and intricacies.
It is inconceivable that all the siphoning of diamonds from Marange could be the work of one person. Prior to the announcement of the new cabinet, I made a spirited prediction that Obert Mpofu would be removed from the Mines portfolio.
That forecast was based on the unassailable reality that since that man took over the ministry, he had been dogged by controversy and claims of shady deals that had turned him into an overnight millionaire. But I argued that his removal would have nothing to do with fighting corruption, and more with seeking a modicum of legitimacy for the new cabinet.
The fact that he was removed seems to support my reasoning. Besides the controversy surrounding Mpofu’s overnight transformation into a super-rich individual, there are endless other cases to talk about. Just recently, dossiers chronicling how diamonds are being systematically smuggled out of Marange were leaked, and the detail in there is juicy.
Some of those named are military personnel and senior employees in the diamond sector. My attention was drawn to one Ms S. Mpofu who was said to be escorting shady characters out of the country with mounds of carats. Could be a relation of Obert Mpofu I wonder? Let’s leave that for another day.
The juiciest part is that the Central Intelligence Organisation seems to be part of the clandestine dealings, through a unit it calls the Special Interests Project, which is said to be getting millions of dollars for unexplained reasons. I wish the Old Man had made reference to this. I would like to believe that he has had sight of the dossiers as well.
I am left feeling that Masimirembwa is merely being used for window dressing. Investigating him would surely open a big can of fat worms and the attempts that we see will definitely come to nought; no-one is prepared for the slimy sight of worms.
And is it not eye-catching that the president did not mention the fact that, once upon a time in 2012, the ZAnti-Corruption Commission made attempts to investigate three ministers—Mpofu, Nicholas Goche and Saviour Kasukuwere—but its efforts were blocked? Who blocked them and why?
The president should surely have talked about this and expressed his disgust at the fact that the commission he appointed was failing to fight corruption because there were powerful forces that felt threatened by it. What is the purpose of having a commission that cannot do its work? It looks to me like there are people out there hell-bent on bringing the name of the President into disrepute. But the mere fact that Mugabe himself ignores this whole chapter in the story complicates things and makes his anti-corruption talk too weak.
Ironically, all the ministers mentioned above have been retained in the cabinet. Maybe there was nothing in the allegations against them, but we have not been told that. In fact, the last time I checked, ZACC was still insisting that it would go ahead with investigations around them – and more. The Old Man’s silence about ZACC is disturbing, to say the least. I was expecting him to tell us that he was going to capacitate his commission—give it teeth—but, sadly, that did not happen.
This is not the first time that Mugabe has talked, seemingly passionately, about corruption. He has always been doing that; the problem is that no-one seems to be listening. Perhaps they know there is no point in listening. In December last year, he lambasted the police for corruption and rampant bribe taking. Predictably, the cops have not let up, especially on the roads.
Several years ago, he was raving about his lieutenants who had acquired multiple farms at the expense of the generality of the population. Needless to say, the list of multiple owners seems to be growing. The million dollar question, therefore, is: Why is no-one listening?
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