In 1981 violence broke out in areas surrounding guerrilla outposts countrywide as the armed wing of PF Zapu, the Zimbabwe People’s Revolutionary Army (Zipra) opposed the rule of then prime minister Robert Mugabe’s Zanu PF.
Candid Comment with Brian Mangwende
The resistance to Mugabe’s rule culminated in the massive killings in Matabeleland, the southwestern region of Zimbabwe inhabited mainly by the Ndebele-speaking people and the Midlands through a succession of military campaigns in which property was lost or destroyed, and thousands of civilians maimed and abused.
Two years later, Mugabe established what became known as the Chihambakwe Commission specifically to investigate the disturbances in the region which still infuriates the people of Matabeleland.
The commission was also established to moderate increasing international and local condemnation of the massacres.
Its mandate was to probe the slaughter of more than 1 500 so-called political dissidents and at least 20 000 civilians in what Mugabe described as “a moment of madness”. The commission was also established to collect testimonies from eyewitnesses and villagers on what exactly transpired in the Matabeleland region.
But alas, no known official report was produced for fear the findings would ignite yet another orgy of violence.
And now that Mugabe’s legacy is premised on uprooting corruption, it is prudent that he acts similarly by establishing a commission of inquiry into allegations of irregularities and corruption that have swept across state-owned parastatals and elsewhere.
They should be no sacred cows, for his failure to curb the scourge would result in the further disfigurement of his legacy.
At Zanu PF’s conference in Gweru, Mugabe was applauded by all and sundry for speaking out against corruption, but now it’s time to walk the talk and stop paying lip service.
But the dragnet should not only target the small fish, for we all know too well that they would be scapegoats.
The net should widen and ensure those with obscene or unexplained wealth account for it. In various entities, there is rampant corruption ripping the social fabric down the middle.
A case in point is the Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation where chairperson Godwills Masimirembwa is accused of taking a US$6 million bribe in a botched diamond deal; and at Air Zimbabwe, where the national carrier allegedly manipulated aviation insurance policies prejudicing the airline of millions of dollars.
And recently, it has come to the attention of the Zimbabwe Independent that something is brewing at NetOne, a state-owned mobile telephony operator where management is said to be panicking over reportedly shady deals.
At the National Blood Service of Zimbabwe, we hear all is not well. More entities are set to be exposed.
In light of the above, Mugabe must not drag his feet, but move with speed to establish a commission of inquiry similar to the Chihambakwe Commission and not only make the findings public, but decisively deal with those found guilty.