Mugabe's 'mercenary' ministers exposed

HARARE - An angry outburst by Harare businessman Temba Mliswa against ethanol magnate Billy Rautenbach has lifted the lid on how President Robert Mugabe’s Cabinet ministers are readily available for hire by shadowy corporate interests.

The shocking revelations not only come amid increasing charges of serious corruption in the octogenarian leader’s government, but also confirm a worrying culture that has gnawed at his successive administrations since independence.

While Mliswa’s cries emanate from unfulfilled promises over his alleged “door-to-door” campaigns and facilitation of Rautenbach’s vaunted $600 million project, it was the controversial figure’s claims that ministers were roped into the ethanol lobby or project that has given an insight into how lucrative trade ventures have been won at the back of clandestine access to Zanu PF officials.

The controversial tycoon, it was alleged, not only managed to get his lowveld project off the ground through the fitness trainer’s midas ties to yet unnamed politicians, but was also able to get his Marshlands Farm back in addition to mining concessions.

And analysts say Mliswa’s disclosures were only a tip of the iceberg on how sleaze and deep-seated corruption ran in the former ruling party.

Most of Zanu PF bosses are career politicians since 1980 when Zimbabwe attained its independence.
Obert Gutu, the Zimbabwean deputy minister of Justice and Legal Affairs, said it was impossible to separate Zanu PF from corruption.

"Zanu PF and corruption are like inseparable Siamese twins; the one cannot do without the other,” Gutu said.

“We have seen the construction of buildings on wetlands, against the advice and lawful rulings of the Environmental Management Agency (Ema). This has happened in my own constituency of Chisipite where, against all environmental logic and communal decency, the wetlands near Dandaro Village across Borrowdale Road are going to host a so-called biggest shopping mall in Africa,” said Gutu.

Gutu also questions the hype surrounding the Chisumbanje project saying it smacks of corruption.

“This country is virtually on its knees thanks to corruption and poor governance, amongst other vices. For as long as we are not bold enough to come up with effective tools of detecting, combating and ultimately eliminating corruption we might as well kiss economic and socio-political development,” said Gutu.

“Zanu PF has a policy of zero tolerance to corruption. I cannot discuss the mechanism the party uses to deal with graft but I can tell you we do not embark on witch-hunting,” Zanu PF spokesperson Rugare Gumbo said.

“We have in the country institutions such as the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC). These are the institutions we use if they convict or charge someone then as a party if that person is found guilty we will definitely act on that. We have no place for such people in the party,” Gumbo said.

ACC which was commissioned by Mugabe remains a paper tiger which has not made any meaningful investigations since its establishment in line with the Global Political Agreement (GPA).

Analysts and commentators say political will is lacking.

Political commentator Dewa Mavhinga said government cannot monitor itself on corruption.

“Those embedded in corruption cannot themselves be anti-corruption crusaders.

“The only way to decisively deal with corruption is revolutionary, involving a clean sweep of the entire corrupt order and its replacement with a political order committed to values of good governance, transparency and accountability,” said Mavhinga.

A survey by Transparency International in 2011 showed that 55 percent of the country’s population thought that corruption is on the increase notwithstanding the presence of a unity government.

Research and Advocacy Unit (RAU) director Derek Matyszak said by their nature, politicians cannot police themselves saying such mechanisms should be enshrined in a new constitution.

“Politicians will never have the will to end corruption...hence the new constitution needs to provide for the establishment of a body like the scorpions and the anti-corruption commission needs to be independently appointed and to operate with full independence,” said Matyszak.

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