Energy Minister arrested for cutting out ZPF
By Tichaona Sibanda
Energy and Power Development Minister Elton Mangoma is paying a heavy price for stopping corrupt ZANU PF heavyweights from benefitting from the procurement of fuel for Zimbabwe.
Mangoma, a key member of the MDC-T and one of the party negotiators to the GPA, was picked up by three plain clothes police constables from his ministerial offices in Harare on Thursday.
It is believed Mangoma was taken in for questioning in connection with a US$5 million fuel deal that saw his ministry pay a company called NOOA to supply diesel for Matabeleland South province. It’s alleged that not all the fuel was delivered.
Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai described his arrest as a continuation of the ‘calculated assault on the people of Zimbabwe’. Mangoma was picked up just as Robert Mugabe left the country to attend an African Union meeting in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, a trip which even Tsvangirai was unaware of.
More curiously was the timing of an announcement by the Supreme Court on Thursday to nullify the election of the MDC-T Speaker of Parliament, Lovemore Moyo, in Mugabe’s absence.
‘The fact that a Cabinet minister can be arrested by a constable is a reflection of ZANU PF’s total disregard to the basic tenets of decency. His arrest is an assault on the GPA. Mangoma, just like Mwonzora, (MDC-T MP) Munyaradzi Gwisai and Rodgers Tazviona (MDC-T MP) are all innocent victims of a barbaric and senseless dictatorship,’ Tsvangirai said.
Mangoma denies any wrongdoing and pointed out to legislators in Parliament on Wednesday that as Energy Minister he has sweeping powers in an emergency to acquire fuel for the country without going to tender.
‘He even challenged all MPs in Parliament yesterday (Wednesday) to read the powers he has as Energy and Power Development Minister in case Zimbabwe runs out of fuel and energy. But obviously people from ZANU PF did not, and still wanted him dragged into a police cell to embarrass the MDC and tarnish his name,’ one MDC-T MP said.
Mangoma, a successful businessman and deputy treasurer-general for the MDC has, during his short tenure as Energy Minister, uncovered many irregularities to do with fuel tenders and the supply of equipment to the state utility power company, ZESA.
A source told us Mangoma recently blocked a company called Solarhat, which is fronted by an Asian businessman in Harare but is wholly owned by ZANU PF, from supplying pre-paid meters for ZESA.
‘He discovered that all government contracts at the ministry are being pocketed by Robert Mugabe’s people. The irregularities he uncovered include bid rigging, the awarding of tenders to ZANU PF MPs, and ministers, and bypassing of the tender process in favour of certain suppliers, consultants and contractors.
‘ZANU PF declared war on him but can you compare what he did, trying to alleviate the country’s fuel challenges to what Ignatius Chombo has done,’ the MDC source added.
Chombo is the Minister of Local Government, Urban and Rural Development who personally benefitted when he appointed a caretaker council in 2008 that awarded him vast tracks of land in Harare for virtually nothing.
This was the same time that a project to dualise the Harare International airport road was awarded to Augur Investments, a company that shared the same premises with Chombo’s Harvest-net Enterprises.
The MDC-T has long demanded that Chombo should account for his vast wealth, which includes dozens of residential and commercial properties, including scores of top of the range vehicles and commercial trucks, farms, some ten companies, mines and safari lodges. The matter was reported to the police and the Anti-Corruption Commission last year but no action has been taken.
‘ZANU PF corruption infests and infects every aspect of our economy and Government. To take an example amongst hundreds in the past year, more than three official complaints of corruption have been made to the police against Chombo and yet the police have refused to investigate these allegations.
‘The arrest of Mangoma is an attempt to cloud and obscure the massive corruption in Zimbabwe. It is an attempt to embarrass the party. The people of Zimbabwe are not foolish. The people of Zimbabwe are not cowards. The people of Zimbabwe will not accept this,’ Tsvangirai said. SW Radio Africa