New Zimbabwe (London)

Zimbabwe: Parasites Shouldn't Get Off Scot - Free

PRESIDENT Mugabe's eccentric cousin, Phillip "Fidza" Chiyangwa once bragged that he is "filthy rich" because he is a privileged member of the ruling party. Whilst the above quotation is certainly nauseating, and particularly so to poverty stricken supporters of Zanu PF and millions of Zimbabweans who are finding it extremely difficult to put bread on their children's plates, it is sadly indicative of a well- entrenched system of patronage and nepotism within Zanu PF. An insidious system that has seen a few well-connected individuals amass great wealth at the expense of public service delivery.

Chiyangwa and his ilk have the audacity to brag in broad day-light about their ill-acquired wealth because they are untouchable. They are untouchable because they are protected by powerful forces inside the government. Such is their confidence that even their colleagues in parastatals are looting departments under their control with utter impunity. Pockets and wallets full of money, stomachs bulging with excess food, sluggish, tired and mentally exhausted, this clique is finding it extremely gruelling to manoeuvre the nation out of its current predicament. Such is life in Zimbabwe!

It's theft. That's why it is unacceptable. "Thou shall not steal"are words of wisdom from the men of God. Not much to explain and query about this moral statement- is there? Those who have acquired great wealth by the sweat of their brow and power of their beautiful minds are entitled to flaunt their riches as they please. Why shouldn't they? Usually, society rewards such men with great respect and adoration because they deserve such venerations. It is not easy however for the corrupt to acquire sympathy or adoration from the masses. This is the reason why whenever the word "corruption" is mentioned, names like Phillip Chiyangwa, Roger Boka, Solomon Tawengwa, Godwills Masimirembwa suddenly comes to the front.

Recent revelations that Cuthbert Dube, Premier Service Medical Aid Society (PSMAS) Chief Executive netted a hefty $6 million a year in salary earnings is hardly surprising. The truth is -there are many rotten eggs in all government departments and parastatals that incinerating the whole basket seems to be the only feasible solution on the table. We should not be naïve to expect this problem to be eradicated by fidgeting with legislation, capping wages or dismissing the culprits. The problem is much more complicated than that. There is a deeply embedded culture of arrogance, cruelty and apathy that has been promulgated by Zanu PF since they came to power in 1980. It will certainly require heavy handedness and the masses' collective efforts to rid the nation of this plague. The anger of a stick won't tame this beast.

To grasp the extent of this insidious moral plague, I invite you to take a look at Zanu PF's past and its vast business interests. Zanu PF has an extensive commercial empire within and outside Zimbabwe. There are no demarcated boundaries between Zanu PF's political mandate and it's private and commercial interests. This is a grey area in our body politics that has been concealed from public scrutiny for a very long time. Zanu PF owns an investment arm called M & S Syndicate which was established in 1979. M&S Syndicate is primarily concerned with the party's internal interests, focusing on agriculture, property management and investments.

The original directors were the spouses of two Zanu lawyers, Amos Chirunda and Simplisius Chihambakwe. Between 2004 or 2005, the syndicate was chaired by Presidential aspirant Emmerson Mnangagwa. It is currently chaired by Gertrude Chikwava who also represents the Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation (ZMDC) on the board of Canadile Miners (Pvt) Ltd, a joint venture between Core Mining Resources and the ZMDC and one of two companies given access to the Chiadzwa diamond field.

By carefully probing Zanu PF, any competent observer will deduce that Zanu PF is an oligarchy type political party to which making profits is the only principle which they serve. Of course it is good for Zanu PF to keep connected to the world beyond politics; however this does not give Zanu PF top echelons a free ride to abuse State resources to bolster their private businesses and to line their pockets. To make matters worse, the public have very little knowledge about the financial standings of these concealed entities. This state of affairs is certainly a fertile breeding ground for corruption.

If there is one thing Zanu PF understands well, it is the psychology of Zimbabweans. Throw at them Chimurenga propaganda, pretend to take action against lawbreakers, dismiss one or two people implicated in corrupt practices - mix these ingredients and the public are likely to bite the bait. Policies are written but they are never implemented, rules are constructed but never followed. Take for instance Zanu PF's leadership code which was published in 1984. It is a set of rules intended to deter the ruling elite from self-aggrandizement and engaging in corrupt practices. Indeed, the publication of the leadership code was a blasé acknowledgement of the propensity of some within the top hierarchy to use their power and influence to accumulate wealth.

Hardly two years after its publication- the nation was hit by a big scandal involving top Zanu PF officials. This was a big test for the leadership. But what transpired after is very instructive and affords us ample evidence about Zanu PF's tendency to turn a blind eye to corruption inside its top ranks. In 1986, a scandal was unearthed which became known as the Willowvale scandal. The case involved Zanu PF heavy weights who used their positions, authority and power to cheaply buy scarce motor vehicles from Willowvale vehicle assembly plant and sold the same cars to third parties at a profit.

The revelations dismayed the nation but for the sake of political expediency, President Mugabe set up a Commission to investigate these allegations and many senior government officials were named in the scam. One of the Ministers implicated was the late Maurice Nyagumbo who, out of shame, committed suicide in 1989. But in a move that reveals President Mugabe's true character, he forgave and pardoned all the culprits. This boggles the mind, considering Mugabe's highfalutin talk about eradicating corruption in high places. Much worse, this move rendered the leadership code useless.

History has shown repeatedly, that in instances of high level corruption or wrongdoing, subsequent cover-up tends to generate graver consequences than the preceding transgression. Whilst engaged in corrupt practices, our clueless politicians forgot that there is a principle which is highly regarded by the owners of the auto-mobile company under the scope. It's called Honour. Honour is very important in Japanese culture, the Japanese would rather commit suicide than place their nation in disrepute. By acting in such a disgraceful manner, our politicians' integrity was under question, and where there is no honour and public accountability, the Japanese and other international businessmen will not risk investing in such a nation.

It is true that corruption has significant effects on a host of key economic transactions such as Foreign Direct Investment and access opportunities to global financial institutions. The Boka Scandal of 1998 is also a good example of everything that is wrong with the ruling party. Roger Boka, the late proponent of empowerment enjoyed extensive ties to the political elite. In 1995, he was issued with a commercial bank licence and established the United Merchant Bank. UMB collapsed three years later with serious consequences for the financial sector in the country.

However, during over the three years prior to its collapse, the bank lavished Zanu PF heavy weights with unsecured "loans" that appear to have been little more than bribes. Boka is also alleged to have externalised over US$20 million, much of it with the connivance of his lawyer, yet NOTHING was done to pursue these funds. In 1998, as Minister of Justice, Mnangagwa appointed the Governor of the Reserve Bank to investigate Boka's activities but Boka died in February 1999 and the investigation appears to have been interred with him. Such is the state of our contaminated legal system.

The scandals and corruption cases mentioned above are just the tip of the iceberg. It is simply impossible to list all the corrupt cases in this allotted space because they are too numerous, varied and complex. From the blood diamond fields of Chiadzwa, War Veterans Fund scandals to a fertilizer sacks inside the granary of a peasant farmer in rural Zimbabwe. Nothing is out of reach to the beast. The harsh truth is that these liberation war heroes- turned politicians are only in office for what they can get, not for what they can give. That is an undisputable fact, a very sad one for that fact.

What an excruciating slap in the face? Such disappointment to millions of poverty-stricken Zimbabweans who voted for Zanu PF in the last general elections. For retaining Zanu PF for the fifth time since independence, the nation has been rewarded with an avalanche of scandals involving a few burly old men who are looting the nation dry. Oh, how sweet the whip! Don't expect JUSTICE any time soon. Expect fat cats like Phillip Fidza Chiyangwa, Godwills Masimirembwa, Cuthbert Dube to continue looting the nation because they are privileged members of the ruling party.

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