Columnist/OpinionCorruption

It isn’t Chivayo flying too close to the sun – but Mnangagwa certainly is!

BY Tendai Ruben Mbofana

So, Information Ministry permanent secretary Nick Mangwana issued a cryptic warning to dubious businessman Wicknell Chivayo.

In a chilling post on X (formerly Twitter), he (Mangwana) compared Chivayo to Icarus, son of master craftsman Daedalus.

According to Greek mythology, Icarus flew too close to the sun and fell to his death after the wings he had used, designed by his father, melted due to the heat.

Ex convict Wicknell Chivayo flanked by Kenyan President William Ruto (left) and President Mnangagwa at the ZITF in April.

They had been made out of feathers, threads from blankets, clothes, and beeswax.

This macabre message by Mangwana was supposedly in response to a leaked audio recording in which Chivayo, a convicted criminal, bragged over his close ties to President Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa.

This relationship, Chivayo boasted, was what enabled him to secure millions of dollars through shady government contracts, of which he was paid cash upfront.

He claimed that, as a direct result of this connection, his wealth and influence had grown twenty fold within an incredibly short space of time.

These tenders included various government departments and entities, such as the ZEC (Zimbabwe Electoral Commission) and ZRP (Zimbabwe Republic Police).

Indeed, Chivayo – who is not new to controversy – has made news headlines over his awarding of a US$173 million 100MW Gwanda solar plant contract in 2015, which has still not been completed.

He also entered into another shady deal with the ZEC to the tune of US$40 million for the supply of voting material for the August 2023 harmonized elections.

The tender, in which Chivayo and his partners were handpicked, was ostensibly approved by the Office of the President and Cabinet as well as ZEC chair Priscilla Chigumba.

All this, despite the fact that Chivayo and his partners had zero specialty, capacity, or experience in the procurement of election equipment and materials.

Through the millions of dollars he has acquired from these dubious dealings, he has embarked on a reckless spending spree – doling out expensive cars to ruling ZANU PF praise-singers.

He, obviously, did not leave himself out – as he has never been shy showing off his latest high-end vehicles and opulent lifestyle.

All the while, the ZACC (Zimbabwe Anti Corruption Commission) has been suspiciously silent – never instituting any investigations.

Most recently, he entered into a sole and exclusive distributor deal with Starlink, owned by Elon Musk’s SpaceX – which, in an unprecedented move, was specially announced by Mnangagwa himself.

Of course, in all this, Chivayo is a man who spent two years (2005 to 2007) behind bars for money laundering.

It would appear Mangwana was not impressed by Chivayo’s boasting that his proximity to Mnangagwa was the reason for his vast wealth through the securing of these questionable tenders.

Yet, have we not seen this closeness with our own eyes – exactly what he (Chivayo) described in his viral audio recording?

Has he not been a regular visitor to Mnangagwa’s official residence, State House – with the two proudly posing for pictures?

In fact, of late, has Chivayo not taken on a rather disturbing role of even undermining Mnangagwa’s two vice presidents – something he also bragged about?

Has he not gone as afar as being the first in the queue to welcome Mnangagwa at airports – as witnessed in April 2024 at the Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo Airport – a role specifically preserved for Kembo Mohadi and Constantino Chiwenga?

The ‘cherry on top’, so to speak, was when he was invited to be part of the photoshoot between Mnangagwa and the visiting Kenya President William Ruto?

As such, Mangwana was not at all amused when Chivayo spilled the beans in the viral audio recording.

However, there is a pressing question on my mind.

Why should Mangwana be so angry with Chivayo?

What did he do wrong?

Was he not telling the truth about his close links to the president, which have been there for all to see?

Do Chivayo’s mega deals with various state institutions not smell fishy and have fingerprints of a very powerful person all over them?

At whom should the crosshairs really be aimed?

In other words, who is the one truly flying too close to the sun in all this mess – Chivayo or the one apparently enabling his shady dealings?

I have warned before, in an article similarly titled, that Chivayo would likely be Mnangagwa’s downfall.

Let us not forget what those who ousted former tyrant Robert Gabriel Mugabe used as a pretext for their actions: Removing criminals surrounding the president!

Why is a whole head of state so comfortable associating with a convicted criminal?

Who is benefiting what and how?

In a genuinely democratic country, with functional truly independent state institutions, this would have been legitimate cause for thorough investigations and even impeachment of the president.

As such, I believe Mangwana was targeting the wrong person.

I rest my case.

Tendai Ruben Mbofana is a social justice advocate and writer. Please feel free to WhatsApp or Call: +263715667700 | +263782283975, or email: mbofana.tendairuben73@gmail.com, or visit website: https://mbofanatendairuben.news.blog/

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