Zanu PF a corrupted brand
HARARE – A Zanu PF probe into alleged diamond money looting in Manicaland and President Robert Mugabe’s December confession that his ministers were demanding bribes of up to $10 million have certified the 50-year-old party as inherently corrupt.
As first reported by our sister paper the Daily News on Wednesday, the investigation centres on the alleged plunder of nearly $1 million worth of diamond money clandestinely donated by gem mining firms for the party’s Gweru conference.
With many of Mike Madiro’s provincial executive at the centre of the probe, which further threatens to tear Zanu PF apart along factional lines, analysts say the unravelling drama confirms a long-held view or perception about the depth of the graft cancer in the ex-majority party.
Despite the outturn of solid evidence — a fact Mugabe himself has acknowledged — party functionaries and cadres still engage in large-scale thieving with impunity, they said.
Pedzisayi Ruhanya, a Zimbabwe Democracy Institute director and strident critic of the Harare regime, says there is no political will in Zimbabwe to tackle corruption.
“There is no political will because those people who are being arrested are small fish. We will only know that the government is against corruption when a minister is arrested. The Cabinet is the biggest pond and we wish to see officials from Zanu PF arrested,” he said.
Charity Manyeruke, a University of Zimbabwe lecturer, however, says Mugabe is ready to tackle corruption and blames a docile Parliament and an ineffective ACC for high levels of corruption.
“I think there is political will to deal with corruption if we take a cue from what the president said last year at the conference. When a leader of a political party speaks against corruption at that level, that shows commitment,” she said.
Manyeruke said the country’s low ranking is a cause for concern, calling on parliamentarians to be more vigilant.
“The issue of corruption is very worrying and we really have to work hard to improve our standing. We need to keep checking on ministers in order to monitor corruption and our MPs should raise these issues.
However, the MPs are also a problem because there are also corrupt and are not playing their oversight role,” the UZ political science lecturer said.
Another socio-economic commentator, who requested not to be named, said: “Zanu PF is to blame for the cancerous corruption within the party and in the country in general. Firstly, the leadership of the party and in government has failed to institute mechanisms to decisively deal with corruption and hold those responsible to account for their crimes.”
“Secondly, Zanu PF has created a perception in society that the party routinely demands bribes, this is why diamonds companies in Mutare gave around $700 000 believing it to be meant for party business,” said a local analyst.
So bad is the culture of corruption in Zanu PF that national chairperson Simon Khaya-Moyo has called it: corrupto-neurship.
At the conference, Mugabe repeated concerns by ex-South African president Thabo Mbeki about some of his top aides, who are bilking the state for personal gain.
Although the octogenarian leader’s shocking disclosure was aimed at exonerating himself from rampant graft or vice gripping the party — to an extent that those soliciting for bribes have been using his name — the net effect of that admission or public-washing of dirty linen as well as unfolding bung scandal is that Zanu PF is corrupt as a movement, analysts say.
With party secretary for administration Didymus Mutasa confirming the $750 000 diamond cash probe last week, those facing a roasting include: youth secretary for security Admire Mahachi, information head Masimba Kangai, ousted Tawanda Mukodza and former district coordinating committee member Clever Muparutsa.
For instance, Madiro’s lifestyle is under the spotlight after allegedly building a 36-roomed mansion.
The beleaguered Manicaland provincial chairperson — at some point suspended for allegedly siding with Defence minister Emmerson Mnangagwa in what is now known as the Tsholotsho debacle — is still considered an ally of the Midlands supremo in his ambitions to succeed Mugabe.
In this long-standing power duel, the Chirimanzu-Zibagwe legislator’s opponent has been touted as Vice President Joice Mujuru.
And in the latest turf war in Manicaland, Madiro and company stand accused of allegedly soliciting money from diamond firms, including Chinese-owned Anjin, for Zanu PF’s December jaunt or outing, which found its way into their own pockets. And as the party’s brand continues to suffer at the hands of corrupt elements within its ranks, the eastern border probe comes amid growing concerns about Chiadzwa diamond cash abuse.
Last year, Partnership Africa Canada (Pac) said nearly $2 billion worth of diamonds had been looted out of Zimbabwe — a charge vehemently denied by Mugabe’s side of government.
In its shocking revelation, the Western-based non-profit organisation says these gems have been stolen through a network of Zanu PF officials and international diamond criminals.
The claims — and Zanu PF confirmation of sickening corruption in its ranks — also comes as a Transparency International (TI) report has shown Zimbabwe declining in global ratings.
In particular, TI’s local chapter says the country’s newly-found mineral riches are fuelling this scourge, where Zimbabwe has slipped further to 163 out of 176 surveyed countries. Even, though, the report has urged public institutions, including Parliament and the Anti-Corruption Commission to probe corrupt officials, they remain hamstrung by lack of political will to tackle the scourge.
As such, critics not only continue to point in Mugabe’s way for his lack of political will and muscle to tackle this vice, but say it is the route in which his party was also able to build a $6 million “Hall of Shame” in Gweru as well as fund a $20 million agricultural input scheme.
Whereas Zimbabwe can produce a massive 30 to 40 million carats worth $2 billion per year, according to Belgian diamond expert Filip van Loere, Finance minister Tendai Biti has had to cut his revenue forecasts after only receiving a paltry $40 million in diamond remittances — a source of constant clashes in the inclusive government.
And while Mugabe, and his party apparatchiks are fond of crying sanctions and blaming “phantom western enemies” for their waning political support, it is these undemocratic tendencies, if not syndrome, which have cost Zanu PF some votes.
For the men and women, meanwhile, who live on crumbs in a land of vast mineral wealth, they angrily look at the eye-watering riches of Mugabe’s ministers.
On the other hand, the probe of five party bigwigs in Manicaland not only remains a tip of the ice-berg, but offers a glimpse into the ostentatious lives of some of Zanu PF’s big men, analysts say.