IN a week of high drama within the corridors of power, government is now scrambling to cover-up the wholesale looting of state-owned assets at steel-maki
ng company, Ziscosteel, amid fears the scandal could rock the political establishment to its foundations.
The stampede to suppress the report — to protect looters instead of public assets — involved hurried manoeuvres to withdraw the document from those who have it and tightening security measures to ensure those likely to raise the alarm did not lay their hands on it.
“Authorities are trying to bury the detailed report which exposes one of the biggest cases of graft by ministers and MPs,” a source said. “This report is likely to suffer the fate of similar previous investigations which were buried to protect corrupt government officials.”
Ministers who had spoken out publicly about the high-profile corruption detailed in the report are said to have been intimidated by the powerful culprits into retracting their remarks, even those recorded in parliament.
Industry and International Trade minister Obert Mpofu, who was widely quoted last week as saying “influential people” had pillaged Ziscosteel through “underhand dealings that have left the company bleeding”, was at pains on Wednesday to withdraw his statements.
Mpofu’s new line now appears to be that ministers and MPs did not loot Zisco but their companies benefited from contracts, while the state firm made huge losses. Observers say this is clearly an attempt to sweep the issue under the carpet via semantics.
Anti-Corruption minister Paul Mangwana, who last week threatened that those implicated would be arrested soon, was quiet this week. Although President Robert Mugabe was vocal this week in justifying the brutal assault on ZCTU leaders for public protests, he has remained tight-lipped on the Zisco issue.
To dramatise the cover-up, there was also official censure of the state media, especially the daily Herald, for agitating in an editorial on Wednesday to “make the Zisco report public”. Sources said government officials angrily complained about the editorial which urged the publication of the report and prosecution of the suspects.
The report, done by the National Economic Conduct Inspectorate which is controlled by the Ministry of Finance and state security agents, was distributed to a few government officials, some of whom were intimidated from leaking it to the media.