Former Education Minister David Coltart has accused flamboyant businessman Philip Chiyangwa of enriching himself at the expense of Zimbabwe’s working class.
In a recent interview with The Zimbabwean, Coltart said Chiyangwa, who has developed a taste for expensive cars and clothes, was behind the closure of most Bulawayo companies that he had taken over.
There is a new league of millionaires in Zimbabwe, most of whom have made their wealth through corruption and looting.
Bulawayo, which used to be the nation’s industrial hub, has been hit by massive company closures over the past 10 years – and even more so since the 2013 elections – resulting in thousands of workers being thrown into abject poverty.
Not related to Mugabe
Coltart took a swipe at Chiyangwa, who claims to be a cousin to President Robert Mugabe, posted a video on social media in which he was showing off his wealth. Chiyangwa’s actions also attracted the wrath of Mugabe’s cousin, Patrick Zhuwao, who in his weekly column in the state-owned Sunday Mail lashed out at the businessman for lying that he was related to Mugabe.
Said Coltart: “I have no problem when wealth is made as the result of innovation, hard work and ingenuity. However most of Zimbabwe’s millionaires have made their money off the back of the working class, through plunder, asset stripping and corruption. I do not know how Chiyangwa made his money save for what he did to a variety of Bulawayo-based companies that he took over and drove into the ground.
“I also have a concern when Zimbabwe’s wealth and precious foreign currency is spent on very expensive imports such as Bentleys, Rolls Royces and the like. Surely our foreign currency would be better spent on vehicles made either in Zimbabwe or at least South Africa, which is on the African continent.”
Failed to prioritise
Coltart, who served as minister during the inclusive government, also bemoaned the fact that government has failed to prioritise key sectors and instead spent millions of dollars on unnecessary foreign travel and enormous monetary allocations to the Office of the President and Cabinet – that are unaccounted for to the Auditor General.
“During my tenure in government there was disproportionate (not necessarily overspending) in some sectors such as foreign travel. One of my complaints was that the Ministry of Education received a relatively small percentage of its budgeted allocation in relation to other sectors such as the office of the President and Cabinet, the Ministry of Defence and the like,” said Coltart.
Mugabe’s office has come under fire for overspending. Opposition parties and critics are arguing that the frequent foreign trips by the nonagenarian are doing more harm than good to the country.
Chiyangwa was continuously unreachable for comment, but he is on record in the video he posted on social media claiming that he gets his money “from the people”.