20 February 2013

Zimbabwe: Ministers Corrupt, Says Mutambara

DEPUTY Prime Minister (DPM) Arthur Mutambara told Parliament last week that some of the Cabinet ministers who appended their signatures on government deals with foreign companies were corrupt, prejudicing the country in the process.

Mutambara, who has previously told the legislative assembly that ministers "were deaf, dumb and guilty as charged," said State bureaucrats were easily outmanoeuvred by foreign firms during discussions because they negotiate as individuals with one friend or associate to back them up while the foreign firms bring to the table up to 30 lawyers and the same number of consultants well-versed in matters at hand.

"The third problem Mr Speaker is greed and more greed. This is the cancer afflicting the Zimbabweans involved in these transactions. The danger is that a few individuals are given peanuts, crumbs and they sell this country for a song," said Mutambara.

"We need to make sure that we mitigate and manage greed among our people. Officials involved in these arrangements are paid peanuts, they are paid crumbs and they sell the country for a song," he said.

Mutambara said when the country is negotiating deals, it needs to put its best foot forward by bringing in independent consultants and lawyers, otherwise government would be short-changed because of ignorance and lack of capacity.

He further said Zimbabwe needs to reform its laws, build capacity around negotiators and ensure transparency by removing the opportunity for greed.

Turning to the ESSAR deal, the deputy premier said although the transaction was done within the laws of Zimbabwe, regrettably those laws allowed government to give away the country's natural resources for a song, underlining the need to amend the legislation.

"You and I have a duty and obligation to change the Mines and Minerals Act because it is criminal. It allows Zimbabweans to get the short end of the stick in terms of our natural resources. What are we saying? We are saying that, our laws allow us to give claims to companies for free," said Mutambara.

"You give them a claim for free, they go to Australia with your claim, they list in Australia and borrow against your claim and they tell you that your claim is valueless in Zimbabwe while in Australia or Canada it suddenly has value."

Last December, President Robert Mugabe said former South African president Thabo Mbeki had told him that some Ministers in his Cabinet had demanded kickbacks from members of the African National Congress who wanted to invest in Zimbabwe.

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