Intellectual Prostitutes and Collaborators
The Zimbabwe Conundrum Part 6
By George B.N. Ayittey, Ph.D.
Dr. Arikana Chihombori
Dr Arikana Chihombori is a US-based Zimbabwean doctor, and often described as a “woman so ambitious she does not care who gets hurt as she seeks to achieve her personal ambitions”. She is said to openly declare that her ultimate ambition is to become the first female President of Zimbabwe. There is nothing wrong with having such personal ambition but it must have some anchor – some foundation.
African women who attained high stature did so by doing “something” for their people. Winnie Mandela was called the “Mother of the Nation of South Africa” because of her indefatigable struggle against the racist and oppressive apartheid regime. Maathai Wangari of Kenya, who formed the Green Belt movement in Kenya, fought relentlessly against the corrupt and repressive regime of President Daniel arap Moi. President Ellen Sirleaf-Johnson of Liberia waged a fierce battle against hideously repressive regime of General Samuel Doe. And Dr Arikana Chihombori? Has she even established rural clinic to treat HIV/AIDS patients? What has she done for the people of Zimbabwe?
Yet, she believes the possession of a mere professional certificate qualifies her to be the first female president of Zimbabwe. That in itself is a telling commentary of caliber of Mugabe’s government officials. If they are a coterie of brain-dead professionals with no social distinctions and achievement, why shouldn’t Dr. Chihombori aspire to be the first female president?
In the process, however, she has cast morality aside and brazenly sought to manipulate and seduce many in the Zimbabwean political establishment, especially top Zanu-PF politicians. Her long client list includes President Robert Mugabe himself, Defence Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa, Local Government Minister Ignatius Chombo, former health Minister David Parirenyatwa, former Education Minister Dzingai Mutumbuka, who recently retired from the World Bank in Washington, and former business magnate, Mutumwa Mawere, who now lives in exile in South Africa.
In her primitive bare-knuckle pursuit for power and glory, she holds no candle to any standards. She was allocated Cecil Farm near Marondera but abandoned it after it was invaded by war veterans. She was allocated another farm in Mashonaland East. Still not satisfied, she made a mad grab for the De Rus Farm, a property belonging to one M.L. Cremer in the Chegutu area of Mashonaland West.
Despite her denials, she developed an intricate network of relationships several players in the upper echelons of the ZANU-PF party. Local Government Minister, Ignatius Chombo was a regular visitor in her home in the U.S. until he was slapped with travel sanctions by the US government.
She was a director of First Banking Corporation (FBC), a ZANU-PF-linked bank with operations in Zimbabwe and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. FBC, which partly financed the massive looting and plunder of Congo’s mineral resources, was part of the business conglomerate – Africa Resources Limited (“ARL”) — established by business magnate, Mutumwa Mawere. She was a major investor in ARL and claimed she brought in other investors from Tennessee. ARL had interests in mining, manufacturing and the agro industries, as well as in the financial services, including banking and insurance, publishing, investment holdings, transport and international trading, among others. ARL became one of the most powerful and influential corporations in Zimbabwe’s history, amid allegations that it had received a helping hand from ZANU-PF, with Defence Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa serving as Mawere’s god-father in the party.
Afflicted with the depraved “crab mentality” (“pull him down”) she reviled Morgan in order to elevate herself. She once said in Shona: ‘Tsvangirai anoda chii pahuku yemweni’, meaning Tsvangirai has no business trying to replace President Mugabe. The doctor (meaning herself) is Zanu-PF all the way.
Then suddenly in January, 2009, Chihombori attended the inauguration of President Zuma in the company of Tsvangirai. The woman knows no shame. She claimed thereafter that she was a niece of the Zimbabwean Prime Minister. The arrival of Tsvangirai at the function while escorting a strange woman two months after his wife Susan Tsvangirai died in a road traffic accident was enough to cause even heads of state to remark about the association. Acquaintances, former business associates and a relative in Harare known to her, contacted the Zimbabwean Times to deny categorically that the Chihombori family was in any way related to Tsvangirai.
Chihombori describes Mutumwa Mawere, the business magnate, as a close friend. She should carefully contemplate the fate of her friend. When Mawere got too greedy and ambitious, Mugabe yanked AFL out of his hands. He now lives in exile in South Africa, from where he has been fighting over the years to recover his business conglomerate.
Mutumwa Mawere, an ex-business magnate, was educated in Zimbabwe, Swaziland, the UK and the U.S. (George Washington University) obtaining a Master of Science (Management) and an MBA (Finance & Investments) degree. He has become one of Mugabe’s fiercest critics now that his lucrative asbestos mine and branch companies, including a bank, have been seized
Among his first employers were the Industrial Development Corporation of Zimbabwe and the Merchant Bank of Central Africa. In 1988, he joined the World Bank, where he rose to become a Senior Investment Officer with the International Finance Corporation — a category at the bank for young people deemed to have the potential to become world leaders. In 1995, he became a citizen of South Africa.
In 1996, he acquired Zimbabwe’s sole asbestos mining company Shabanie Mashaba Mines (SMM), branching out through all of Zimbabwe’s economy. His rise was accompanied by allegations of patronage and improper support by politicians from the ruling ZANU-PF, especially in connection with government guarantees for a US$60 million loan used in the purchase of SMM. Mawere denied these claims, saying that purchase payments were guaranteed for by a deposit of shares of the mining company instead.
In 2004, Mawere’s business empire came under government scrutiny, and allegations of prejudicing the state of more than Z$300 billion were raised by the authorities. In May, Zimbabwean authorities asked for Mawere’s extradition fromSouth Africa, but failed. Since then, by presidential decree major parts of his businesses were seized by the government.
Mawere claimed his asbestos mine in Zimbabwe was seized by the government as part of its efforts — which include printing money — to keep afloat and pay off overdue debts to the International Monetary Fund. The Zimbabwe government, in turn, accused Mawere of defrauding it. Mawere is suing Mugabe in a British court for violation of property rights. Now he is talking about property rights? What did he say when the property rights of others were being violated? Poetic justice?
Mawere wrote to the IMF’s managing director, Rodrigo de Rato,
“There is no doubt that my companies have been seized by the state, and the beneficiary of the export proceeds is now the state. This can hardly be described as a voluntary submission,” Mawere argued in the letter.
“If this can happen to me, an African investor, what about other companies?” he asked in an interview in Washington on Wednesday after he met with members of the Congressional Black Caucus. “Can you sleep knowing your government is up to mischief?”
“People thought this was only a white problem. Now it is happening to black people,” he said. “The government can take your rights any day. The other side of all this is that blacks are being victimized by blacks, and property rights are being compromised with impunity. If I don’t express this, what future do we have as Africans in Africa? We cannot all drive taxis in America. There is a black face to the victims of Mugabe,” he said (The Washington Post, Feb 23, 2006)
He wrote this about Charamba, a columnist for the Herald:
On paper, Zimbabwe is a democratic state but if there is a more potent threat to Zimbabwe’s constitutional order, Mr. Charamba, President Mugabe’s chief spin doctor, would top the list. He writes a weekly column that is published by the state controlled daily newspaper, the Herald, in which he expresses views that exposes the extent of the collapse of the semblance of a constitutional order that is normally expected in a democratic society . . .
Having followed some of Charamba’s articles, I have come to the inescapable conclusion that in as much as many people may believe that President Mugabe is the sole poison pill to national progress, the real problem lies in our generation of which Charamba can count as my contemporary but whose views pose a much more significant problem for Zimbabwe to extricate itself from the avoidable humanly created economic and political quagmire . . .
It cannot be said that Charamba behaves like a civil servant rather he behaves like an intellectual terrorist armed with the venom that can only be expected from a political commissar. It is evident that Charamba has reached a point of no return and he has chosen to identify himself as a revolutionary civil servant prosecuting a national democratic revolution that so far has failed to confer real benefits to citizens . . .
To the extent that Charamba appears to believe that democracy, rule of law and human and property rights are a nuisance, it is reasonable to ask why President Mugabe, his principal, would subscribe to elections if the outcome of such democratic experiments could produce undesirable outcomes.
Zimbabweans have allowed their civil service to be polluted by political prostitutes who have no respect for the constitutional order that their masters purport to respect ( http://www.swradioafrica.com/pages/mawere070108.htm)
Saviour Kasukuwere, age 39, Minister of Youth Development, Indigenisation and Empowerment is the youngest in a Zanu-PF ossified team of ministers. He was vice-president of the Affirmative Action Group (AAG), an organization set up ostensibly to press for the empowerment and advancement of black people in business. But he used the organization to advance his own business interests by arm-twisting bank managers to fund the businesses of some of AAG leadership – loans that subsequently became delinquent. Eventually, he was fired by AAG president, businessman Phillip Chiyangwa.
Kasukuwere went to Chiunye Primary School and Bradley Institute. He hold various qualifications in the art of intelligence. He is studying for his Bachelor of Political Science and Administration with the University of Zimbabwe. Yet, he does not understand such basic concepts as “democracy,” “rule of law,” or “accountability.” Functionally illiterate, he can’t reason for himself. He says he is inspired by President Robert Mugabe. “I am in Zanu PF,” he says. “My leader inspires me. He directs me.”
In 1994, Kasukuwere left the President’s Office to go into business full-time. His first business, a transport company, was launched while he was with the CIO in Mutare. His business interests stretch from transport to fuel supply and banking sectors. His Comoil ran into problems last year after it was accused of overcharging on fuel. The company allegedly sold diesel for Z$1 700 (about US$2) a litre instead of Z$200 dollars (25 US cents). His name has been associated with violence, particularly in the Mashonaland Central Province.
In an interview with Geoffrey Nyarota, he said:
“What people do not realize is that they do not understand me. People think that I live in a world of conspiracy, that I live in a world of scheming and plotting. If anything goes wrong, it has to be Kasukuwere. People have preconceived notions about an individual before they understand what he is all about. But I guess if you have substance, there will always be this talk” (The Zimbabwe Independent, http://www.thezimbabwetimes.com/?p=18523)
In a lurid spectacle of vulture capitalism, Marian Chombo, the estranged wife of Local government Minister Ignatious Chombo, is suing her former husband in a property dispute. At the centre of the matrimonial dispute is a farm extending over 3,098 hectares or 7,655 acres. Also in dispute are three houses and two apartments all in Harare, as well as two stands at Shawasha Hills. Mrs, Chombo also wants an equal share of an undisclosed number of cars, an unspecified tanker, horses, beef cattle and dairy cattle, that is apart from a poultry project, a piggery and a goat project.
Mr. Ignatious Chombo used to teach at the University of Zimbabwe before he became a powerful cabinet minister. You would think that, as government minister, he would do all he could to help the university where he once taught. But no. The once fine university has become a shell of itself – broken fixtures, dilapidated and outdated equipment, crowded classrooms and severe brain drain.
Now, the Leadership Code adopted by ZANU-PF in 1984 stipulates that an official of the party cannot own or have beneficial interest in more than 50 acres of land. The code was adopted 16 years before the land invasions of 2000 when the majority of the leaders of the then ruling party instantly became beneficiaries of large tracts of land. Some have since become multiple owners of large commercial farming estates.
The Code also categorically states that: “Zanu-PF believes that a leader who concentrates on acquiring property, or who personally engages in the exploitation of man by man, rapidly becomes an ally of the capitalists and an enemy of socialism; and of the masses of the population.” Yet, Ignatious Chombo, and several of the Zanu-PF leadership, including President Robert Mugabe and his lieutenants, Emmerson Mnangagwa, Solomon Tapfumaneyi Mujuru, Gideon Gono, Phillip Chiyangwa and Johannes Tomana, the attorney-general, have become hideously wealthy in a land of abject poverty. And they call themselves socialists? My foot.
The basic reason why the West is rich and Africa is poor is explained by where the rich make their wealth. In the U.S., the richest person is Bill Gates. He made his fortune in the private sector by producing something – Microsoft computer software. He has something to show for his wealth. By contrast in Africa, the government sector is the arena for personal wealth accumulation. The richest persons in Africa are heads of state and government ministers. They have nothing to show for their wealth since government does not produce wealth; only redistributes it. Therefore, the rich in Africa make their money by raking it off the backs of their suffering people. It is not wealth creation; it is wealth redistribution – from the poor to the powerful. And the chief bandit is quite often the head of state himself.
There is nothing wrong with wanting to be rich. But in Africa, every educated fool who wants to be rich heads straight into government. “Fool” because that wealth is invariably illegitimately acquired by the use of one’s office. And come a change of government, it will be seized by a Commission of Enquiry. Yet, scores of educated fools jostle fiercely among themselves in a frenzied stampede for government posts.
This greedy frenzy emerged among Zimbabwe’s socialist soon after in independence in 1980 with the Willowvalle scandal. At that time, Zimbabwe has only one car assembly plant, Willowvalle Motor Industries in Harare. Owing to a shortage of foreign exchange created by a combination of import, export, and exchange controls as well as the refusal of Mugabe to deal with South Africa, a chronic shortage of vehicles developed. Government officials who used their excessive allocation of chits to purchase automobiles later resold them on the black market at three times their purchase price. In October 1988 The Chronicle, owned by the government itself, set out to expose this racket. The editor, Geoffrey Nyarota, was himself an ardent supporter of Mugabe and a member of ZANU. He published the names of the ministers who had obtained vehicles.
Soon after the publication of the names, insults and accusations were hurled at the editor. The most heady clash was with Defense Minister Enos Nkala, who was masterminding the car racket. When Nyarota’s deputy, Davison Maruziva, attempted to question the defense minister further about the scandal, the minister issued threats: “I will lock you with your editor. Where did you get that information? That information is supposed to be with the President and the police. I want that information here in my office. I will use the army to pick you up, then you can ask your questions. I do not care!” (New African, Feb 1989; p. 34).
Mugabe demoted and transferred Nyarota. One member of parliament, Bryon Hove, protested, “If someone differs with us, let alone on corruption charges, and he is thrown into the sea, it serves to show how much we condone corruption.” Sydney Malunga, an outspoken ZAPU member, charged, “The transfer of Nyarota marks the beginning of a totalitarian state” (New African, April 1989; p. 36).
Pressure finally forced Mugabe to set up the Sandura Commission of Enquiry to iinvestigate the “Willowgate” scandal. One minister who appeared before it, Maurice Nyagumbo, admitted using his influence to obtain over 36 vehicles for friends, relatives, and contacts within his constituency (New African, April 1989; p. 36). Mugabe forced five ministers implicated in the scandal to resign. But he spared ministers from his own tribe. Maurice Nyagumbo, who had been the number three man in Mugabe’s party and the government’s senior minister of political affairs, felt so dishonored that he later committed suicide in April 1989. And Mr. Ignatious Chombo’s fate?
In March 2002, the ex-wife of former Zambian president Frederick Chiluba claimed her husband salted away some $US2.5 billion from state coffers while he was in power (The Sunday Times, March 31, 2002). Vera Chiluba’s revelations, published in the Zambian Post, shocked the country, which has a gross domestic product of little more than $3-billion. She wanted a piece of the loot. Although she got nothing, her revelations led to the prosecution of Chiluba, although in the end the charges against him were dismissed in a decision that was widely seen as politically influenced.