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Zim under Mnangagwa is now worse than Zuma’s SA!

BY Tendai Ruben Mbofana

Who can forget the daily live broadcasts of the ‘Zondo Commission of Inquiry into State Capture’ in neighboring South Africa?

I, for one, made sure not to miss any of these hearings.

Each time, I was left more flabbergasted and disgusted by the depth at which then President Jacob Zuma had not only permitted but actually promoted corruption in the country he governed.

He had allowed a few connected individuals, such as the Gupta brothers, to permeate every state enterprise and institution – in so doing, defrauding the nation billions of dollars.

Their stinking corrupt tentacles were seemingly everywhere – mostly through multi-billion-dollar contracts that were awarded unprocedurally and without going through legal tender processes.

During these hearings, I found it so hard to believe that a whole head of state could be so corrupt.

As a matter of fact, I was deeply humbled when I was invited for a one-on-one breakfast meeting by Dr. Masimba Phillip Dahwa in Harare last month.

He was one of those who appeared before the ‘Zondo Commission’, where he gave an impassioned testimony as to how he bravely resisted unimaginable pressure from government ministers and high-ranking SAA (South African Airways) board members to sign questionable contracts.

South Africa’s Chief Justice Raymond Zondo who led the Commission of enquiry into state capture by the Guptas family.

He was subsequently fired from his job as the SAA Chief Procurement Officer (CPO) for his courageous stance against corruption at the state-owned enterprise.

As he narrated to me the depths of graft and shady dealings in these organizations in South Africa, it was undeniable that our own Zimbabwe had now reached this unenviable stage.

Here, we have heads of state who have allowed disgusting levels of rot and corruption to permeate every fabric of their countries.

These are people who are supposed to be honorable and above reproach.

In fact, that is the very reason presidents were given the title ‘Your Excellency’, as a mark of respect, which spoke to the ‘excellent and perfect nature’ expected of them.

Yet, we see those who appear intent on doing the exact opposite by placing both their names, offices, and nations into disrepute.

It has never stopped baffling my mind why someone like President Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa would stoop so low as to associate with a known criminal as Wicknell Chivayo.

Only a few weeks back, I warned that the relationship between the two – which they flaunted in public with no shame at all – would soon end in disaster.

These two have been pictured at State House (the president’s official residence), with Chivayo even usurping the two vice presidents’ role of welcoming Mnangagwa at the airport.

He (Chivayo) was actually with Mnangagwa when he met his visiting Kenyan counterpart, William Ruto, in April this year.

In fact, in my article entitled, ‘Will Wicknell be Mnangagwa’s downfall?’, I signed off by saying, “Kana kangoma koririsa kave pedyo nekubvaruka!”

This is a Shona adage, which means that when someone or people become too excited or comfortable in doing bad things, chances are their deeds are about to blow up in their faces.

As if these were prophetic words, barely a few days later, an audio recording presumably by Chivayo went vital – in which he boasted over how he was making millions of dollars from capturing Mnangagwa.

This was in reference to the disturbing and unashamed close relationship between the two – which enabled Chivayo to secure several multi-million-dollar contracts from state enterprises and institutions.

These included, but certainly not limited to, ZEC (Zimbabwe Electoral Commission) and ZESA (Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority) – to the tune of US$40 million and US$173 million (with US$5 million paid in advance) respectively.

Needless to say, in spite of signing the deal with ZESA way back in 2015, the agreed upon 100MW solar plant in Gwanda is nowhere to be seen!

Furthermore, according to reliable investigative news reports, the Office of the President and Cabinet was directly involved in awarding Chivayo the ZEC tender, despite lacking any specialty,  capacity, and experience in procuring election material and equipment.

As was the case with the notorious Gupta brothers in South Africa, Chivayo’s deals allegedly flouted tender procurement regulations and were awarded unprocedurally.

In the leaked audio recording, he even proceeded to brag that there were other contracts in the offing from the ZRP (Zimbabwe Republic Police) and the immigration department – where he will also be paid millions of dollars in advance.

In spite of numerous news reports on Chivayo’s questionable dealings – coupled by his prodigal lifestyle, where he regularly buys highly expensive vehicles for himself and those close to the ruling ZANU PF party – there was an unnerving and disquieting silence from either the police or ZACC (Zimbabwe Anti Corruption Commission), which are tasked to investigate these types of crimes.

Only after the viral audio recording had leaked – in which Chivayo implicated the president through their close relationship – did ZACC finally decide to act.

ZACC chairperson, Michael Reza

Of course, those of us who follow these issues are skeptical over this investigation as it has all the hallmarks of a PR stunt meant to portray an image of a government that does not tolerate corruption simply because Mnangagwa was named by Chivayo.

However, only a fool would expect anything substantive to come out of these investigations.

Actually, the fact that ordinary Zimbabweans do not at all seem enraged and outraged by these shenanigans – so as to engage in some meaningful action – emboldens the ruling establishment not to do anything about deep-seated high-level corruption in the country.

Just as was the case with the ‘Gold Mafia’ revelations in the Al Jazeera investigative documentary, it will all soon be forgotten with the underhand dealings continuing.

Here, we all watched in bewilderment as the president’s close associates – particularly his Ambassador-at-Large Uebert Angel – spoke about how he could launder money and smuggle gold, particularly to Dubai (UAE), in which he also fingered Mnangagwa.

Yet we did absolutely nothing, and no one was ever held to account.

What is needed now is for Zimbabwe to copy the South African example.

We desperately need our own ‘Zondo Commission’ – a truly independent specialized body tasked with investigating state capture and corruption in Zimbabwe.

We need to hear testimonies from all those involved and the culprits brought to book.

Nonetheless, we can not be blind to one glaring difference between the South Africa and Zimbabwe scenarios.

In our southern neighbor, a genuinely independent commission of inquiry into Zuma and his associates was instituted after he (Zuma) had been removed as state president and replaced by his deputy Cyril Ramaphosa.

Whereas in Zimbabwe, Mnangagwa is still in power.

Maybe the onus is now on his lieutenants to hold their leader accountable by demanding answers.

The ruling ZANU PF party – as did South Africa’s ANC with Zuma – needs to cleanse itself by getting rid of leaders who tarnish its image.

These are former liberation movements, whose legacy is steeped in their fight for their respective nations’ freedom and democracy.

These struggles were founded on the ideals of justice, equality, and the equitable distribution of wealth.

Under such a dispensation, there should be no room for any form of corruption – especially when national resources are looted, misappropriated, and mismanaged for the enrichment of only a few.

All this while millions of ordinary citizens are pushed into unbearable abject poverty.

Yet, this is exactly what we are witnessing in both Zimbabwe and South Africa.

Is this what these former liberation movements fought for?

Is this the legacy they want to leave behind?

We now desperately need all those who genuinely subscribe to the ethos of the liberation struggle to step up and lead in the fight against high-level corruption in Zimbabwe.

It does not matter who is engaging in or enabling this pillaging of our resources, but it is now imperative that true patriots do the right thing for the country.

Thousands of Zimbabweans did not die during the war of liberation so that Mnangagwa and his cronies could live a life of lavishness whilst the rest of us suffer. 

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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