Stop it, Mugabe warns
GWERU – President Robert Mugabe yesterday vowed to fight corruption, responding to public pressure to probe graft perpetrated by mostly his Zanu PF allies in government.
Casting next year’s election as the clearest and most important choice in a generation, Mugabe highlighted corruption as a scourge that could bring down Zanu PF, though he did not offer any specific new proposals to stop it.
He blasted the Zimbabwe Republic Police for pervasive roadblock corruption in the wake of the Anti-Corruption Trust of Southern Africa (ACT-SA) report that found that the police’s traffic section was the most corrupt in the Sadc region and is costing government millions of dollars in lost revenue.
Mugabe again made strides to appeal for the women vote, demanding that tax collector Zimra stops harassing women at ports of entry. The veteran leader again drew comparisons with men, who he said splash cash on girlfriends, while women were concerned about feeding their families.
He said the party must be vigilant against graft.
Mugabe’s language was unusually direct for a top leader, indicating his seriousness about the problem, but his speech gave few indications of how the party could better police itself.
He used strong words and it was clearly a warning that Zanu PF has to do something about graft.
Mugabe said top-level corruption was now transcending borders.
“Even now kunze, former President Thabo Mbeki has said ah vanhu venyu, some of our people, ANC guys who want to come here to do business this is what they have been told: Okay, if you want to do this business, pay up $1 million to us first, vozonzi ah, no it’s not $1 million it’s now $5 million, from the $5 million, $1 million toenda nayo tonopa minister, tozobvako yonopihwa President Mugabe. That’s cheating, that’s corruption,” Mugabe said.
“If a minister, if I get information that so and so minister is doing that, he goes immediately.
Unfortunately, vanhu vanenge vasingade kutaura mazita, vanoti ah tozotya kuti vanhu vangatandwe. And that’s happening in the ministries.”
Mugabe’s opening speech, delivered to about 5 000 delegates and guests at the new swanky $6,5 million conference centre underscored a pointed theme delivered repeatedly during the convention — that Zanu PF will have to be disciplined, the philosophy adopted from the liberation struggle against white rule.
In a two-hour address mixed with his trademark rhetorical flourishes, Mugabe uncharacteristically railed against corruption in the police force, drawing applause from the packed auditorium.
“Mapurisa, mapurisa, mapurisa, we want you to be straight forward people, you are our representatives — representatives not just in government but for the people of Zimbabwe as well,” Mugabe said.
“And if you want to be paid to do jobs you should do, then you are practising corruption. And you cannot boast anymore of how you are a disciplined police force with the number of people doing that, kumisa vanhu mumigwagwa ah mota yako haina mabrakes, mobhadhara $5 mofamba.”
Motorists and anti-corruption watchdogs surveyed by ACT-SA singled out the police’s traffic section as the most corrupt department in southern Africa.
“Corruption is now deeply rooted to such an extent that the culprits are demanding bribes publicly as if it is normal to do so,” according to the November 5 report, which also said there is no commitment within the ZRP to deal with police officers who are living beyond their means.
Mugabe then turned on his party apparatchiks winning political power through vote-buying. “We want discipline in the party,” he said.
“We will not accept that your membership of the party or your being elected to a post should depend on how much you pay to supporters. Kubhadhara mari kuti vanhu vakuvhotere, kubhadhara mari kuti udiwe, aiwa kwete.”
Mugabe’s frequent references to “the people” in his speech indicated that the past decade has resulted somehow in the people feeling alienated from the party.
Clearly, for Mugabe, the crux of the next election campaign is an anti-corruption drive.
Before Mugabe delivered his opening speech, an energised crowd heard national chairperson Simon Khaya-Moyo again rail against corruption.
Blasting what he termed “corruptepreneurs”, Moyo said the party will need efficient tools or weapons to fight corruption.
“Entrepreneurs have been replaced by corruptepreneurs,” Moyo said.
“Where entrepreneurs have been replaced by corruptepreneurs, such conduct is unacceptable. Such conduct must be curbed by all. It is my considered view that once we deal with corruptepreneurs, we will succeed to indigenise, empower and create employment,” he said citing the theme of the conference.
“And yes, we shall win resoundingly in the forthcoming election if we own up, come out of this conference committed to fight corruptepreneurs in favour of entrepreneurs. I have no doubt we are assured of victory. We must always remain a clean party.”
Several corruption investigations have targeted high-level leaders in recent years, but the party is accused of obstructing the investigation as well as corruption in high offices.
Mugabe also emphasised the need to step up the indigenisation drive, saying he was now gunning for 100 percent stake in foreign firms.
He said his coalition partners had argued that his indigenisation drive threatened capital, but said Zimbabwe had the necessary skill and expertise to take over the foreign firms. – Gift Phiri, Politics Editor