PRESIDENT Emmerson Mnangagwa’s administration, which promised to fight corruption after assuming power through a military coup in November 2017, is under scrutiny over murky deals involving his associates.
Mnangagwa took power after the army launched a military operation ostensibly to remove the “criminals” surrounding former president Robert Mugabe before consolidating power in a controversial election in 2018.
But corruption cases in the country since Mugabe’s departure continue to rise.Giving his first state of the nation address in December 2017 following the coup, Mnangagwa said he would have “zero tolerance” to corruption, seeking to draw a line under years of endemic corruption and impunity.
“Corruption remains the major source of some of the problems we face as a country and its retarding impact on national development cannot be overemphasised,” Mnangagwa told a joint sitting of the country’s two Houses of parliament.
“On individual cases of corruption, every case must be investigated and punished in accordance with the dictates of our laws. There should be no sacred cows. My government will have zero tolerance towards corruption and this has already begun.”
But on Mnangagwa’s watch, powerful cartels have captured government, which over the last month has been rocked by the Zupco and Covid-19 procurement scandals.
Cases of corruption against political heavyweights from the previous and current administration have failed to hold, with no convictions of those who were accused of mismanagement of government funds, abuse of office, fraud and other corrupt activities.
Since 2017, most of the court cases involving the political elite, including Ignatius Chombo and Prisca Mupfumira, arrested for alleged corruption and abuse of office are yet to be concluded. The Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission has been accused of playing a game of catch-and-release.
Zanu PF’s acting spokesperson Patrick Chinamasa yesterday threatened the media for what he described as the peddling of information that tarnishes the image of the President and the first family.
The ruling party, which says champions the anti-corruption fight, has not spoken out against the procurement irregularities.Rather, it has punished its members for naming and shaming corrupt individuals linked to the party, as was in the case of youth leaders Pupurai Togarepi, Godfrey Tsenengamu and Lewis Matutu, who were fired for speaking out against corruption.
Ministers have been shifting blame and professing ignorance on the Zupco deal, which has seen a company linked to Mnangagwa’s ally Kuda Tagwirei raking in millions of dollars in profit, after buying the vehicles on credit from China before selling them at exorbitant prices to the government.
Transparency International Zimbabwe executive Muchaneta Mundopa said the allegations regarding breach of procurement procedures were worrisome, adding that there should be whistleblower protection
“We are worried about the allegations, there is need for transparency of public procurement procedures. These are public funds that are used and the public has a right to know the details of government procurements,” Mundopa said.
“In light of the threats that we have been hearing lately, our position is that there should be a whistleblower protection policy. We would also like to implore the Auditor-General to regularly review these procurement deals to assess whether they are being done right.”
The Zimbabwe Independent last week reported that buses bought by Landela Investments at US$63 000 each, including transportation and insurance costs to Beitbridge Border Post, were now being sold to the government for US$212 000.
Procurement of Covid-19 equipment is mired in controversy.Two companies, Jaji and Drax International, are accused of benefitting from their links with the political elite by clinching tenders and charging questionable prices for goods.
While the first family has denied links with Drax representative in Zimbabwe, Delish Nguwaya, several pictures of the businessman with Mnangagwa’s son Collins have surfaced on social media.
Businessman Frank Buyanga also mentioned Nguwaya’s relationship with the Mnangagwas in his child custody battle court papers where he accused the first family and Nguwaya of meddling with court processes.
A Zimbabwean medical doctor based in Namibia, Garikai Mushininga, who says he is the managing director of Jaji Investments, this week said his business dealings were above board and denied any links to Mnangagwa.
“I formed my two companies, Kalahari Health Care and Jaji Investments in 2013 and they have been trading well before Mnangagwa became President. How then is he involved in my business? I have been supplying medical equipment in Namibia, Zimbabwe and Zambia for several years now and everything is above board,” he said.