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Account for own wealth

PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe’s wife Grace has been systematically attacking Vice-President Joice Mujuru accusing her, besides claiming she has been plotting to oust and assassinate her husband and herself, of abuse of office, extortion and corruption.

Zimbabwe Independent Editorial

In a society like Zimbabwe where corruption is now entrenched within the public, private and civil society sectors, Grace’s assault on Mujuru’s alleged venality was welcome albeit with scepticism.

Corruption, be it petty, political, systematic or grand, is rooted in our communities, private sector and of course within government where abuse of office, power and trust for personal gain is widespread.

Parastatals and state enterprises are a haven for endemic corruption, partly caused by low salaries, poor corporate governance, organisational weaknesses, manipulation of processes, lack of transparency and accountability, discretionary powers and impunity.

Poor leadership is also part of the problem. Rent-seeking and self-enrichment have some serious economic costs of corruption to the economy’s attractiveness to investment, entrepreneurship and innovation.

Recent reports like those from Comptroller and Auditor-General’s office, Transparency International and the Corruption Perceptions Index only help to confirm and provide evidence to what is already known.

The real tragedy, though, is that despite the existence of an array of laws and institutions to fight the cancer of corruption gnawing away at society’s fabric, there is no political will to do so. Government is doing virtually doing nothing about it. The public has all but given up.

So Grace’s remarks on Mujuru’s alleged corruption resonated despite grumbles that her protest is self-serving and soaked in hypocrisy.
Of course, it goes without saying that for Grace to have the moral high ground to criticise Mujuru and others, she must first be clean herself.

This means she must first account for the Mugabe family’s own wealth, starting with how they got to have the companies, farms, mansions and all other assets they have. How did they acquire them? Are they willing to tell the nation where they got the money from, given they don’t have a business background and Mugabe is earning just US$4 000 a month.

Mugabe was a teacher and did not own businesses. Grace was a typist and a cross-border trader, a vendor if you like. They were not investors, entrepreneurs, shareholders, risk-takers or wheeler-dealers in any form or shape.

So how did they come to own what they now have? Here we are talking about Gushungo Holdings and all its subsidiaries such as Alpha and Omega Dairy, as well as other assets.

Where did they get the money to build their multi-million dollar Borrowdale mansion? How did they build Gracelands before selling it? How about the US$5 million Hong Kong villa?

The US$1 million they used to buy trucks through Ping Sung Hsieh, in botched deal, where did it come from?

There is also the issue of farms. Gushungo Holdings reportedly owns more than 10 farms, including Iron Mask, Foyle, Gwina, Sigaro, Leverdale, Bassiville, Highfield and land seized from Interfresh, among others. How were they all acquired? It would be good if Grace can start by explaining her own family’s wealth.

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