HARARE – First Lady Grace Mugabe’s perceived allies who are targets of a hotly-disputed government anti-corruption blitz that has heightened tensions within President Robert Mugabe’s faction-ridden Zanu PF say they can’t wait to face their accusers in court and demonstrate that the campaign is nothing more than a “factional sham”.
This comes after State media went to town earlier this week publicising the blitz and linking a number of Zanu PF bigwigs, senior government officials, parastatal heads and businesspeople linked to the ruling party to underhand State deals involving millions of dollars.
However, the same State media appeared to beat a hasty retreat from the allegations yesterday after Information permanent secretary George Charamba surprisingly criticised the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (Zacc) which was ostensibly spearheading the campaign.
A number of people who are on the corruption “hit list” who spoke to the Daily News yesterday said they were also ready to approach Mugabe to show him “conclusive evidence” that the campaign was “a despicable hatchet job” meant to soil them as well as the image of Zanu PF ahead of the 2018 elections.
Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA) chief executive, Karikoga Kaseke — who is among the targeted officials — said while he welcomed the campaign, he, however, expected Zacc to communicate with him directly, rather than through State media, over its suspicions, to avoid hurting Zimbabwean tourism.
“I personally have nothing to hide because if you are looking for the five cleanest officials in this government, I am one of them. If you are looking at two, I am one of them and if you only want one, then I am the one.
“I, however, feel that you do not need to tamper with the country’s tourism brand by communicating such things through the media because it will have far-reaching effects on this sensitive sector,” he said.
He added that “if and when” the anti-corruption commission eventually served him with their warrants, he would “not challenge them through the media, but through the country’s legal system”.
“I am eagerly expecting the so-called warrants and as soon as I get them I will hand them over to my lawyers so I can give you a proper legal response. Otherwise, there is nothing to fear,” Kaseke said.
Businessman Wicknell Chivayo also said he welcomed the probe, saying that it was “a perfect platform” for him to clear his name.
“I’m actually excited and relieved. An investigation such as this one gives everyone a chance to appreciate how due process was followed on all the public tenders we won as opposed to always assuming the negative and coming up with erroneous conclusions.
“I hope they will also make their findings public when they finally appreciate that absolutely no short-cut was taken and that all procedures were followed as stipulated by the Procurement Act,” he said.
NetOne director Brian Mutandiro said he had co-operated with the investigators who visited him, adding that he had “no reason to worry because “my hands are clean”.
“I am not losing sleep about this at all. There is no reason to worry. After they came to us we gave them all they wanted. We are waiting for them to proceed and we have absolutely nothing to be afraid of,” he said.
Other individuals such as Zanu PF Harare provincial chairperson Shadreck Mashayamombe have also alleged that the blitz was nothing more than a factional hatchet job.
“We believe this has everything to do with the factional fights in Zanu PF because if the blitz was genuine, we should see it investigate the issue of the $15 billion that went missing.
“They should also be investigating 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,” he said.
And as the targeted people were commenting to the Daily News, Charamba was savaging Zacc via State media, saying the commission had impugned government systems by planting false stories before it had carried out proper investigations.
“They cannot … behave like a rattlesnake which makes a lot of noise before striking. I really wish they knew the kind of chaos they triggered in government with stories they planted through the national press …,” Charamba said.
Many of the targeted individuals who have spoken to the Daily News are linked to Zanu PF’s ambitious Young Turks known as the Generation 40 (G40) group, which is rabidly opposed to Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa succeeding Mugabe.
A businessman who is said to be a key G40 funder and who requested not to be named — also asserted angrily on Monday 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.
Other Zanu PF insiders have also 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 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 are also Kaseke, Zimbabwe National Roads Administration acting CEO Moses Juma, and Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation acting CEO Patrick Mavhura who are facing the gun.
In addition, 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 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.