The Herald (Harare)

15 March 2014

Zimbabwe: Minister, MP Ask for U.S $120 000 Bribe, Attempt to Fleece Investor, President Warns of Imminent Arrest

President Mugabe yesterday revealed that a Cabinet minister and a female Member of Parliament last week demanded a US$120 000 bribe from a prospective investor.

The Head of State and Government also warned of the imminent arrest of senior Government officials over graft allegations.

Speaking at a belated 90th birthday party hosted in his honour by the Civil Service Commission in Harare, the President said corruption had ruined Government's operations and those of Africa at large.

His remarks come in the wake of the salarygate scandal that has implicated senior executives at State-linked firms who were awarding themselves hefty packages of up to US$500 000 a month at the expense of service delivery.

The belated birthday celebrations were held under the theme "A legacy of serving the people" and were attended by Cabinet ministers and civil service staff.

Although the President did not name the two officials, he indicated imminent arrests of senior Government officials involved in illegal activities.

"I was being told last week that a businessman who wants to invest was led to a lady in Parliament," he said.

"This lady says 'yes, yes I can take you to more important people, but give me US$50 000 then I will open the way for you'.

"He (the investor) went to another highly-placed minister, he said he wants to establish some company, take me to the President; 'yes, but give me US$70 000, US$30 000 elsewhere' and so on. And ndozvazviri.

"What sort of people are we? We will punish each other. Zvitadzo zvitadzoka. We punish. Zvedu tinopunisher pano pasi. Mwari anopunisher kudenga and that is why Va(Paradzai) Zimondi vanawo majeri pano apa and we will send them senior persons there netie dzenyu ikoko munonodzibisirwa ikoko," he said.

"Momboenda kujeri. Takaendeswawo kumajeri takange tisina corruption. Tairwira nyika. Mombonobvumbiswawo ikoko majeri guard ariko. Zvese izvi zvinobvumburudzwa izvi."

The President, who has declared zero-tolerance to graft, said corruption had also crept into the police force.

"We do not want people to undergo unnecessary suffering. But this is what is happening everywhere -- people vanoda chemuhomwe, chemuhomwe, chemuhomwe ichocho.

"Sharia law -- hatina sharia law. MaArab vanayo ... vanodimura mbavha. So let us do our work well. We have a beautiful, beautiful, well-cultured civil service. Tose. Zvino chirwere ichi chakadanhirawo nekumapurisa kwese. Kwete. Hatidi izvozvo."

President Mugabe said his Government was undertaking comprehensive investigations on the operations of mining companies in Marange and if it discovered that it was prejudiced in any way, then heads would roll.

"We will be watching and watching kwese ikoko, kunana Chiadzwa uko kuMarange kwese uko," he said. "Tinoda kunyatsoona kuti zvinhu zvange zvichifamba sei. Kana kwange kuine corruption yange ichiitika tikaidzumbunura chete people will answer for it I can tell you."

To be a servant of the people, President Mugabe said, required high levels of professionalism and zero tolerance to corruption.

He said people were expecting a change in the way Government business was executed.

"A lot has been said about corruption in Zimbabwe's public service," he said. "The people we serve are expecting to see a difference in our conduct, particularly given the imperatives of Zim-Asset. They expect efficiency and effectiveness, transparency and an onslaught against all forms of corruption."

President Mugabe said achieving that goal required additional expertise throughout the public service, especially with ICTs in mind.

He said Government had already started introducing e-governance to reduce distances that people travelled to access services.

The President described Zim-Asset as the panacea to the country's problems saying it demanded the collective effort of all Government employees to succeed.

"Zim-Asset is what will take us forward, but I am cognisant of the fact that Zim-Asset will not drive itself," he said. "It needs drivers, champions, indeed people to propel it forward. We, however, should always remember that the most brilliant of strategic plans are worthless if there are no people to drive them.

"All programmes need dedicated men and women who will stand for the values espoused in them, ensuring that through implementation, what was mentally envisaged by the leadership is brought to fruition."

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