HARARE – When President Robert Mugabe fingered former Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation, ZMDC chairperson, Godwills Masimirembwa as having received a US$6 million bribe from a Ghananian investor last week, government authorities sprang into action and began investigating what has become known as the “diamonds scandal.”
While there have been choruses of discontent from all sectors of the Zimbabwean society on the way diamonds money has been handled by top government and Zanu PF officials, those mining the precious stone in the Chiadzwa mine fields have been quick to dispel any such fears.
The recent expose of Masimirembwa by Mugabe however seems to have changed the course of things and opened a can of worms with ZMDC chairperson threatening to spill the beans and expose more people involved in the scam.
But the question that remains unanswered is whether investigations into corrupt activities in Zimbabwe should only be at the instigation of Mugabe. If Mugabe keeps quite, then everyone, including the police turn a blind eye.
The diamonds saga is a unique case in that it also involves the Zimbabwe Republic Police, ZRP as they have a stake in a company at the centre of the investigation.
Under a controversial share deal, the ZMDC with 50 percent partnered Ghanaianas’ Bill Minerals, whose majority shareholder was First Capital Plus who had 20 percent while ZRP had 20 percent.
At a luncheon for new MPs, Mugabe declared zero tolerance on corruption and said the case could go unpunished.
Legislator and lawyer Jessie Fungayi Majome says the fact that investigations are expected to start only because Mugabe said so is proof of the erosion of the rule of law in Zimbabwe.
“The President seems to know that he must actually specifically request or order investigation and prosecution. The police should investigate every crime, not only those chosen by the President,” says Majome.
She does not see this investigation getting anywhere. “I don’t see this yielding any results as it implicates big Zanu PF fish — only recently, this year, the Anti-Corruption Commission was spectacularly barred from investigating Zanu PF ministers.”
Playwright Cont Mhlanga believes there is a lot we do not know that Mugabe knows or he was not just going to speak out and mention names in public just like that.
“This could be a warning shot to those that sit closest to him that he is ready to turn a new page on dealing with corruption. Mugabe is on record warning his party leadership of stealing from the people. His undoing has been turning his back on corruption activities of his senior and middle management both in the party, parastatals and government,” says Mhlanga.
He adds that it is good for Mugabe to mention names where he has evidence because it puts pressure on everyone involved to get jumping. “However the media should not try and judge individuals through their publications using bits of information that they pick from here and there. Let the courts do that job.”
Media practitioner Rashweat Mukundu believes the diamonds investigation is already in trouble as the said complainants appear to have lots of baggage.
“And the question remains answered, who really is clean in the whole system. This appears to be another high sounding nothing by Mugabe as nothing will likely come out if it.
“Corruption is so entrenched in the whole government system that it will take a complete overhaul of the system to deal with it,” adds Mukundu.
Political activist Tabani Moyo says the level of corruption in Zimbabwe is earth shattering.
“Last year former president of South Africa Mbeki hinted to the president of the republic that his ministers were corrupt as they were demanding millions in kickbacks for tenders,” Moyo said.
“Mugabe did not act on them and they are known characters and have since been reappointed in government, so this is a paradox of false pretence to action when the stakes are low and lathery when it comes to cronies.
“There is no will to whole heartedly tackle the corrupt and powerful. But as they say, the problem is it is a case of the fish rotting from the head.”
Harare Residents Trust, HRT director Precious Shumba does not think that investigations have started because Mugabe has said it.
“What I have observed is that in Zimbabwe, especially within Zanu PF, any leader who falls out of favour with the influential men and women in their party hierarchy is left unprotected from political persecution using the law to make it legitimate and acceptable in the eyes of critics,” Shumba said.
“What I perceive to be happening now is that the movement of ministers has also created some uncertainties among some people networked to benefit and manipulate systems within the diamond trading industry.
“This should also be viewed in the context of the power dynamics within the country where the low-ranking officials are being used to weaken their political parents.”