HARARE – Politicians and businesspeople targeted by a current government anti-corruption blitz say it is nothing more than “a sham and factional hatchet job” targeted at perceived political opponents of Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa.
This comes in the wake of a hotly-disputed campaign by the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (Zacc) to track down individuals, businesses, local authorities, parastatals and housing co-operatives accused of engaging in underhand deals involving millions of dollars.
But targeted individuals who spoke to the Daily News yesterday — many of them linked to Zanu PF’s ambitious Young Turks known as the Generation 40 (G40) group, which is rabidly opposed to Mnangagwa succeeding President Robert Mugabe — said they were innocent victims of the ruling party’s brutal factional and succession wars.
A businessman and Zanu PF official who is said to be a key G40 funder and who requested not to be named — asserted angrily that the anti-corruption campaign was “blighted by political interests”.
“This is just nonsense from Team Lacoste (Mnangagwa faction) which is persecuting us for supporting … Mugabe and the First Lady (Grace Mugabe).
“Why is it a crime to support the president when we made such a resolution at the 2014 Zanu PF congress? Is it a crime to insist that he should finish his term of office? Why are we being abused for standing by the Zanu PF constitution?
“Team Lacoste have tried to lure people in their evil and criminal intentions of forcing …Mugabe out of power before 2018 but we have said no.
“… Mugabe is still in power and things will stay like that as he is the Zanu PF candidate for 2018,” he charged.
He added that he would not be intimidated in his political activism by the Mnangagwa faction, vowing further to “stand by the president and the first lady to the bitter end”.
“I also want to warn successionists that they will fail in their endeavours. Those who want to succeed the president while he is still alive can go hang. Some of us will continue to support him and he remains our leader because we elected him.
“Are people now so desperate for power that they would want to decimate the president’s supporters using such means? In my case, is it a crime to be a successful businessman in Zimbabwe?” he asked.
His sentiments were echoed by Zanu PF legislator, Shadreck Mashayamombe.
“While we welcome the anti-corruption drive, we are worried by the factional turn it is taking. We believe this has more to do with the factional fights in Zanu PF because if the blitz was genuine, we should see it investigating the issue of $15 billion that went missing.
“They should also be investigating those ministers and MPs who have more than three farms each. But because the list of names targeted for prosecution is being supplied by a known Team Lacoste bootlicker, we know it’s factional politics at play.
“We know we are being persecuted for supporting the first lady and the president but that will not deter us… we are involved with legitimate co-operatives that gave people stands and I don’t know why that is a crime,” Mashayamombe thundered.
Another top Zanu PF official said: “It’s a naked, unrestrained and illegal Lacoste inspired succession blitz against real and imagined enemies of Mnangagwa’s faltering presidential ambitions based on unprecedented abuse of Zaac. Neither Zaac nor Mnangagwa will survive this rank madness.”
The director of anti-corruption watchdog Transparency International Zimbabwe, Mary-Jane Ncube, also expressed “worry that this will end up like other charades”.
Ncube told the Daily News that Zimbabwe was “so confusing owing to its fractious politics that it is usually hard to locate the legality of government’s actions”.
“You need to think about who has given the commission that list of people to be investigated. It seems very unlikely that it’s coming from the commission itself,” she surmised.
Ncube also observed that there had been similar such blitzes in the past that did not result in any arrests, leading Zimbabweans to conclude that the authorities were merely playing politics.
“The people want to see a situation whereby investigations are made, people are arrested and convicted and whatever was stolen returned. And the system that made them steal should also be reformed,” she said.
Another senior Zanu PF official who is linked to the G40 told the Daily News that Team Lacoste was on “a serious, but dangerous crusade to defuse efforts by the party to make sure that … Mugabe stands for elections in 2018”.
“You can see from this crusade that it’s targeted at people who they believe assisted the first lady during her Meet the People tour. But it will not work. The cases being pursued are premised on thin grounds and the evidence is hearsay. It is all political and we will not allow Zacc to abuse their office in this way,” the bigwig said.
Other Zanu PF insiders have also previously told the Daily News that it is in the light of the ruling party’s ugly succession brawls that salacious claims to the effect that several Cabinet ministers and some of Mugabe’s relatives are pillaging the fiscus and parastatals have been played big by Team Lacoste-controlled State media over the past few weeks.
According to weekend reports in State newspapers, the government has obtained warrants against permanent secretaries Grace Mutandiri (Lands), Munesu Munodawafa (Transport), George Mlilo (Local Government), Willard Manungo (Finance), Evelyn Ndlovu (Small and Medium Enterprises) and Sam Kundishora (Information Communication Technology).
Then there is also Zimbabwe Tourism Authority chief executive Karikoga Kaseke, Zimbabwe National Roads Administration acting CEO Engineer Moses Juma, and Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation acting CEO Patrick Mavhura who are also facing the gun.
In addition, NetOne acting managing director Brian Mutandiro, Premier Service Medical Aid Society MD Tendai Kapumha and his Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe counterpart, David Chawota are also being investigated in a probe that is also targeted at companies owned by businessmen Wicknell Chivayo (Intratrek), Philip Chiyangwa (Pinnacle Holdings), Farai Jere (Helcraw Electrical), Moses Chingwena (Croco Motors), Agrippa Masiyakurima (Bopela), Paddy Zhanda (Veracity) and Mashayamombe (Solomon Mujuru Housing Trust) — virtually all of whom are said to have financed Grace and the G40.