Probe me, dares Tsvangirai

HARARE - Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, who has been accused of living an opulent lifestyle that is inconsistent with his government salary, has invited corruption busters to investigate reports of rampant graft in his office and party, where he says there are no sacred cows.

The MDC is accused by former allies-turned-foes in the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions and traditional political opponents Zanu PF of having abandoned the founding principles of the trade union-backed party by living large.

But the former trade union leader says the MDC “is allergic to corruption and will not allow such a cancer” to spoil its reputation ahead of a crunch election that could be held this year.

Anti-graft body, the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (Zacc) has been accused of being a lame duck when it comes to investigating political heavyweights.

Earlier this year, Zacc officials went into hiding while some were arrested or quizzed by the police after attempts to search the offices of three Zanu PF ministers.

The Zanu PF ministers successfully blocked Zacc from ransacking their offices, and in vengeance turned the hunter into the hunted in developments which observers said demeaned the role of the constitutionalbody charged with fighting corruption.

Tsvangirai, who is in an acrimonious coalition government with Zanu PF leader President Robert Mugabe, said unlike his counterparts in government who set hounds on a legally constituted body, he is ready to be investigated.

With polls imminent, the former trade unionist who is living in an upmarket government house, says the MDC will not “field anyone who has been implicated or linked to shady dealings while purporting to serve the people.”

“We are taking a stand that anyone implicated or named in that (corruption) report will not stand in our party’s name, even for primary elections.”

“It would be a betrayal of the party’s values and of the people of Zimbabwe for any credible political party to field anyone who has been implicated or linked to shady dealings while purporting to serve the people,” said Tsvangirai on the sidelines of a press conference this week.

Although Tsvangirai fired all Chitungwiza councillors in 2009 on allegations of graft, critics say many other councils run by his party such as Harare and Mutare are giving residents a raw deal while leaders pursue personal enrichment.

Some councillors elected into office in 2008 almost as paupers are now filthy rich, leading many to question  the MDC’s credentials to fighting corruption.

But Tsvangirai, who was reportedly once investigated by the police for suspected double dipping when he moved into the State-owned Highlands mansion, says Zacc or the police can open investigations on him if he is really corrupt.

“The MDC will not tolerate corruption from anyone in the party, even the party President. We will continue to showcase our qualitative difference by taking stern action against offenders and corrupt officials.

“Protecting corrupt officials can happen elsewhere where they can stop the Anti-Corruption Commission from investigating ministers, but certainly not in the MDC,” said Tsvangirai.

“There are no sacred cows in our party and we urge the Anti-Corruption Commission to continue executing its constitutional mandate by investigating anyone without fear or favour,” he said.

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