The birth of corruption in #Zimbabwe

via The birth of corruption in Zimbabwe February 8, 2014 by Charles Laiton NewsDay

THE deadly HIV virus has caused its fair share of destruction to the Zimbabwean society and economy and worse still, continues to do so and likewise, another pandemic of a different nature, “corruption”, has now taken over.

The graft pandemic has taken its toll on the public and continues to send millions of citizens into the deepest end of poverty.

Unlike the deadly virus which has now been tamed by the introduction of antiretroviral drugs, corruption has proved a lot more difficult to suppress.

Instead, it has gone further to resist any forms of antidotes that have been put in place by the powers-that-be.

Zimbabweans would be interested to know how this country became infected and infested with the corruption contagion and what has become of the alleged culprits.


In the early 1980s, corruption at the scale we see it now was rare. The Paweni Grain Scandal was the most notable.

In the 1990s, sleaze wasalien, but when the biggest scandal, which was later known as “Willowgate”, rocked the country and left many politicians’ careers hanging by the thread after a letter got lost and landed on a businessman’s in-tray when he was not entitled to the tax rebates for a newly-assembled Toyota Cressida by government’s Willowvale Mazda Motor Industry (WMMI).

By that time, the letter and enclosed cheque were misdirected to businessman Obert Mpofu, who later became a politician. Mpofu is the current Transport and Infrastructural Development minister.

Mpofu was mystified as to why he would be entitled to a rebate from the WMMI assembly plant for a car he had not ordered.

He was also not entitled to buy the vehicle on relaxed terms as he was not yet a government official back then.

In the letter, Mpofu reportedly noticed that both items were actually not meant for his office, but were meant for one A Mpofu.

This other Mpofu later turned out to be an employee of a leading Bulawayo businessman, who was neck-deep in shady deals with many prominent politicians.

As the events unfolded, the letter eventually found its way to a local newspaper, The Chronicle, which then broke the story under a screaming headline: Cars Racket, and the story had a huge impact throughout Africa.

President Robert Mugabe immediately instituted an inquiry into the matter by appointing the Sandura Commission of inquiry to get to the bottom of the matter at WMMI.

The findings by the three-member commission led by retired Supreme Court judge Justice Wilson Sandura led to the resignations from government of some Cabinet ministers.


Prominent among them was current Zimbabwean Ambassador to China Frederick Shava, Zanu PF Bulawayo provincial chair Callistus Ndlovu, the late Enos Nkala and Dzingai Mutumbuka among others while Political Affairs senior minister Maurice Nyagumbo reportedly committed suicide in shame and was declared a national hero.

The ministers, among others, were reportedly part of the scam that sowed the seeds of corruption, which pandemic the country would later struggle or rather fail to contain.

Mugabe, then, pledged to take action against the masterminds of the Willowgate Scandal.


As history will show, the Willowgate Scandal culprits were never brought to book, for reasons best known to the powers-that-be and by doing so, the government created an opportunity for other top officials to follow suit believing they would get the same protection their colleagues had enjoyed.

As fate would have it, those that resigned, would later blame themselves as they realised that sleaze was not a punishable offence in the country.

When the Willowgate Scandal broke, a few politicians that resigned fell by the wayside temporarily like Shava, who later politically resurrected to become Zanu PF Midlands chairman and eventually party national director of administration before being posted to represent the country in China.

While Nyagumbo died by his own hand, Nkala later died a pauper after he was forgotten by the government, but those that hung on like Ndlovu have made a comeback into the political limelight.

Nyagumbo must be turning in his grave ruing why he killed himself in shame as skullduggery is now the order of the day in government.

It is clear that the failure by government to take stern measures against its corrupt elements started breeding corruption within other government circles that would later spread to private institutions, which resulted in top musicians like Thomas Mapfumo and Solomon Skuza coming up with songs bemoaning corruption that had invaded Zimbabwe.

At the time WMMI was at the centre of the racket, its sister plant in Mutare, which assembled Toyotas, Mazdas and Peugeots from imported “kits”, was the only other legal importers of cars into Zimbabwe.

At the time, there was a long waiting list for the vehicles, but the law allowed ministers and MPs to jump the queue on grounds that they needed cars for official business.

Instead of keeping these cars, however, many officials were reselling them at huge mark-ups in violation of a law controlling the prices of second-hand vehicles by the government.

At that time, Shava bought and sold so many vehicles that the Sandura Commission criticised him for “behaving like a car dealer”.


Zimbabweans will also remember that there was the War Victims’ Compensation Fund which was introduced in the ’90s where a number of government officials claimed as much as 90% disability and “looted” government funds in the name of having participated in the nationalist struggle.

Though the idea of compensating the country’s heroes was noble, the scheme was marred by controversies as corrupt elements in high offices invaded the good cause and fleeced the fund’s coffers.

Not only were these two incidents at the helm of corruption breeding in the country, there was also the Senior Civil Servants’ Housing Scheme, which saw non-civil servants benefitting from the loans that were availed by the government to assist its own poor masses.

Large sums of cash were looted by top government officials and although a handful non-civil servants benefited, no action was taken against them and by doing so, it increased the rate of corruption which has now spilled into the 21st century at an alarming rate.


Corrupt elements in the government and parastatals continue to enjoy protection even to this day.
Quite a number of top government officials have been fingered in corrupt activities, but nothing has been done to them as they continue to enjoy protection from their comrades in arms.

The same situation has been prevailing to date where only the “elite” in top positions seem to enjoy the “corruption fruits” and continue to smile all the way to the banks at the expense of the majority of the Zimbabweans who still continue to wallow in poverty.


Recently, Mugabe introduced the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (ZACC), an organisation meant to deal with the corrupt elements in the country, but the same commission has been at the centre of a lot of controversies and accused of being corrupt itself.

ZACC is up in arms with its own commissioners who have accused their employer of causing the disappearance of over $5 million which was meant to benefit its employees in terms of salaries, allowances and other packages.

Rather, the anti-graft body has gone further to engage top lawyers to defend itself in the courts of law using a substantial amount of money which could have benefited its operations in fighting corruption in the country, and the question now remains “Who will guard the guard” if any meaningful decision to combat corruption in Zimbabwe is to be made?

  •  1987 — Ziscosteel Blast Furnace Scandal
  •  1987 — Air Zimbabwe Fokker Plane Scandal — $100 million
  •  1986 — National Railways Housing Scandal
  •  1988 — Willowgate Scandal
  •  1989 — ZRP Santana Scandal
  •  1994 — War Victims Compensation Scandal
  •  1995 — GMB Grain Scandal
  •  1996 — VIP Housing Scandal
  •  1998 — Boka Banking Scandal
  •  1998 — ZESA YTL Soltran Scandal
  •  1998 — Telecel Scandal
  •  1998 — Harare City Council Refuse Tender Scandal
  •  1999 — Housing Loan Scandal
  •  1999 — Noczim Scandal
  •  1999 — DRC timber and diamond UN-reported scandals
  •  1999 — GMB Scandal
  • 1999 — Ministry of Water and Rural Development Chinese Tender Scandal
  •  1999 — VIP Land Grab Scandal
  •  2001 — Harare Airport Scandal

Excerpts from a paper presented by Dr G Shana at the Mass Public Opinion Institute Seminar, Crowne Plaza Hotel, May 9, 2006

Corruption in Zimbabwe has come in phases

THE most unanimous opinion condensed from audit reports, donor reports, household surveys, business environment and enterprise surveys, legislative reports and diagnostic studies available between 1980 -1987 was that the incidences of corruption, though present, were minimal no matter how they were defined.

During this period the State enjoyed a relatively high level of integrity, the few incidences of grand corruption that emerged in the form of two cases (State vs Paweni , State vs Charles Ndhlovu), received widespread societal condemnation.

From 1987, however, Zimbabwe saw an exponential rise in cases of corruption, from two in seven years to an average of three to four cases a year until 2002 when the lid fell off.

The down spiral began in 1987 and then chronicled the progressive disintegration of the national moral and economic fibre. The vast majority of the cases, if not all, involved high-ranking politicians, some of whom are still active in politics and/or government having been surreptiously recycled back into positions of authority even when they had been convicted and sentenced.

Involvement in corruption appears to have enhanced their political careers, not damaged them. The evil and upward spiral of corruption took a dramatic upward turn following the watershed elections of 2001/2002.

From 1980 to 1987, corruption was largely opportunistic corruption or greed corruption; from 1987 to 2001 we witnessed the emergence of political elite corruption or network corruption.

This was fast followed by patronage corruption as the networks needed protection and ensured political loyalty and leverage by the patrons.

From 2002, political corruption, chaotic corruption entered and now we are in the belly of a new phenomenon of corruption called the Corruption Factory or systemic or managed corruption that has engulfed the private sector in a greater manner than before.

 Extract of a paper presented by Dr G Shana at the Mass Public Opinion Institute Seminar, Crowne Plaza Hotel, May 9, 2006


  • comment-avatar

    On 19 April 1980 I witnessed personally first hand an arrogant zanupf chef delve into corruption. It’ll be in my memoirs book. 34 years later the criminal terrorists remain immune impunity from prosecution or justice….shame on you lord Carrington and gullible naive lord owen

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    Ephrain Gumbo 9 years ago

    The Brits, our former colonial masters are up to it right up to their eye balls. Knighting Mugabe after he had massacred thousands of Ndebele people shows precisely just how insincere and deceitful they really are. Human rights isn’t the issue, never has been regardless of what they might claim – it’s all about the mineral assets and how they can get their dirty thieving hands on it. Pasi ne Britain.

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      … you could just say thanks for the food and education… prick

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      Fallenz 9 years ago

      And exactly what Brit has been doing all the stealing these past 34 years..??? Ephrain is just trying to remove attention from ZANUPF as the masters of corruption. But, trying to hide an elephant in a strawberry patch by painting his toes red just doesn’t work. The vast corruption by ZANUPF is just too visible for any plausible denial.

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      Ruramai 9 years ago

      Ephraim, how do u get the energy to bring in Britain into the issue? You have a situation where Mugabe participates, condones and rewards corruption but still you have to drag Britain into it. You are shameless.

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      John Thomas 9 years ago

      Gumbo there is nothing available from Zimbabwe that is not available better and cheaper from somewhere else. When you buy elsewhere you have the additional advantage of not dealing with the sleazy types that control everything around here

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    Tjingababili 9 years ago

    Compliments of Zanupf!l

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    Ephraim you sound as if you just woke up from the dead. Do you need any. help it’s 2014!

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    Nyoni 9 years ago

    Pasi ne Zanu( aka zany africans now useless)

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    In the second world war ,it ended in 1945.After that, it was just memories. Nobody claims labels, and requested payments as veterans, for ever. If a Hitler had emerged , people would return and do again, what was right for the world. In zimbabwe here, the whites were no longer made superior over other races, but this right is more superior and corrupted out of this country, cos of another race, the Shona, and only its title circle.What a destruction of a country, for the past three decades.

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    die groot wyt aap 9 years ago

    You must understand that the corruption in Zimbabwe began even before Zimbabwe became a nation. What ever a man is before he receives at title, he will still remain after he has a title. A terrorist who is Prime Minister is still a terrorist (with a title), a rapist who is an MP is still a rapist (with a title). A vice president who is a murderer is still a murderer (with a title). You knew what these people were when you destroyed Rhodesia.

    When the internal settlement came you refused the new government if Zimbabwe Rhodesia.

    Now that you have handed the government to your new Black Liberation Master and his comrades, you act surprised that the terrorists, mass murderers, rapists, child molesters and thieves you elected are still terrorists, mass murderers, rapists, child molesters and thieves.

    Your country has become a haven for war criminals, and those that commit genocide, atrocities, and crimes against humanity. Your comrade Mengistu that lives in his palace on Lake Kariba committed mass murder and was convicted of the execution of 20,000 Ethiopians. After he executed them, the families of the dead were required to pay for the bullet that was used to execute them before their bodies could be claimed for burial.

    There were between 5 and 8 Rwandan Hutus with a price on their heads living in Zimbabwe. They are wanted for war crimes, genocide, and crimes against humanity. There are multi-million dollar rewards for their capture and yet they defile the City of Kings with their presence and walk the streets freely.

    These are the people Bob will use with the Green Bombers when the next gukurahundi comes.

    Bob does not GIVE them asylum, they pay for it. I think Bob received between 4 and 5 million dollars alone from Mengistu. In return they are already trained, will kill for him as they have nowhere else to go. He does not have to pay them like your wovits, they paid Bob. Their only payment is dagga, gin, and asylum.

    Sweet dream comrades, sweet dreams

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    I don’t believe it! This fool Ephraim is trying to blame the Brits! What a joke!

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    What do you expect when government/ZPF leadership actively supported the theft of 6,000 commercials farms under the pretext of land reform without any form of compensation, any regard to the law and any regard to the economic impact, which we are all living with now. The corruption and the ‘give me something for nothing’ mentality that has been driven by the land theft has a lot to do with the greed, graft and corruption we see today. Add to this the long term patronage system that has kept Bob in power and turning a blind eye to all the scandals mentioned before = sickening corruption and greed. Will it all suddenly change with a change in leadership. Not at all. Just look at the MDC faces in the feeding trough during the GNU.

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    Harper 9 years ago

    Some of the current Big Wigs were corrupt while still in exile in Zambia and Tanzania. In 1984 three well known Zimbabweans were still on Tanzania’s list of most wanted criminals. (Murder, illicit diamond dealing and ivory poaching).
    If Obert exposed a scandal it was because his master told him to, certainly not pro bono publico.
    Willogate was an internal power struggle, who took over control of the Party’s commercial operations after Nyagumbo’s death?

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    Harper 9 years ago

    Could the fact that corruption spiraled out of control in 1987 be because the 14 Australian Civil Servants on loan had their contracts terminated and the two local Civil Servants were put in Chikurubi.
    This resulted in criminal cases against eleven Big Wigs being swept under the carpet.

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    John Thomas 9 years ago

    The original ZANU rallying cry was “join us and get your share when we win”. Something for nothing has always been what they were about. The way things have turned out is no surprise. It was always predicted.

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    Sekuru Mapenga 9 years ago

    Mugabe’s system of government by patronage is the root cause of corruption in Zimbabwe. In this system, there is no crime except disloyalty to Mugabe.

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    Mthwakazi 9 years ago

    If you look at all these corruption cases since the 1980s; the common denominator is Shona gukurahundism through out!!

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    Charles Chamunorwa 9 years ago

    Mugabe got to power through corrupt means and he cannot take action against anyone. Vertually everyone in zimbabwe government is corrupt right from Mugabe himself to the lowest rank. Mugabe is powerless because if he does anything he will open a cane of worms and so the best way which ensures his survival is to leave it as it is.

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    Wilfred Sigauke 9 years ago

    Coming Soon to a world court the Sigauke Report starring Zimbabwe’s own stars of corruption – Gideon Gono Joyce Mujuru Millicent Mombeshora corrupt fertilizer and International Money Laundering there is no place to hide for you three

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    kingston dutiro 9 years ago

    Whats this craze on blaming Mugabe about corruption? Its a developmental phase in a nation’s life cycle that must irritate the general population to take solid stance against it and eradicate it. Mugabe has done his part in speaking against it. We must do ours to fight it. Who bribes traffic police to fuel it? Is it state money or private sector fueling it? Personal principles dictate the solutions then law enforcement.

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    shala gushle 9 years ago

    Sadly my fellow citizens of the world as we are now disbanded, Rhodes was wrong to segregate black people into marked lands or rural areas, Smith was right to integrate slowly, the old tribal chiefs, into government so that they could learn to live together – tribal and race differences aside, – mugabe messed up by murdering the chiefs and integrating chosen politically trained commisars to lead the tribes through brute force. Josh was financed by the eastern block, bob was financed by china and korea, wow, who owns the mines in zimbabwe today, who landed the road and bridge development contracts today and where do you think our natural heritage of wildlife has gone to, not russia. Also think back to the media black out in matabeleland where thousands were slaughtered.
    I am but a simple person wishing to live a peaceful life, however circumstance has dictated that this is not possible. I now reside in a country with a stupid government, poor police and judicial system, a place where you are not really allowed to defend your home or family without fear of imprisonment, sometimes I wish I was home between the limpopo and zambezi rivers, living with corruption sometimes feels the lesser of the evils the rest of the world have to offer.

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