Zimbabwe News and Internet Radio

Letter from America: Is Zimbabwe’s new dispensation failing to catch traction?

By Ken Mufuka

The London Guardian of November 22, 2018 is reported to have sold out on the strength of its headline: Mugabe resignation ushers in new era for Zimbabwe. Did we celebrate too early? That is the question.

Ken Mufuka
Ken Mufuka

That was very courageous as the winds of change had not settled yet. “My daughter will grow up in a better Zimbabwe.” Ms Mildred Tadiwa gushed these words with a combination of euphoria and ecstasy.

Today, I and my white brother, Eddie Cross, are part of the select few who hold hope against hope, that maybe it will be alright- a Negro song. But there are serious misgivings which I will detail below.

Mugabe corrupted everybody

While the learned brothers, Professor Tony Hawkins and Alex Magaisa have explained the death of hope as a result of complex interaction of historical and economic factors, Sir Garfield Todd’s observation thirty years ago is the simplest. Robert Mugabe had corrupted everybody.

As Zimbabweans begin to appreciate the depth of this corruption, they also realize that Mugabe drilled corruption into Zimbabweans heads so thoroughly that if three of them gather under a sycamore tree (mukuyu) they are contemplating defrauding the state.

With such hemorrhages, any government is bound to go broke in no time at all.

A few examples will suffice. Former Minister Supa Mandiwanzira was in charge of Information Technology (ICT).  He stands accused of involvement in the award of a $5 million contract to Megawatt, a company in which he had an interest. The issue to me is not only the money thus disbursed, but whether any work was done.  

Former Minister Samuel Undenge was charged, convicted and sentenced for authorizing the payment of $5 million to Wicknell Chivayo, a solar energy entrepreneur. The issue, as in Supa’s case, Chivayo is infact suing government for interruption of his research into solar energy.

There is no solar farm to show.

Former Harare Town Clerk Tendayi Mahachi is in a similar predicament. Having favored himself, so the prosecution is alleging, by awarding the lucrative Harare Airport Road contract to a company that did not at the time exist, he defrauded the City of $80 million dollars. 

In the end Harare City Council hired two more contractors before the road was completed, ten years behind schedule, four times the original estimates.

The $80 million was not recovered.

This is example number four.

In February, 2012, Nigerian industrialist, Aliko Dangote was a guest of then president Robert Mugabe. Later in the year former South African president Thabo Mbeki also visited. Both men revealed that businessmen from their respective countries had been met by Zimbabwean officials who asked them point blank for bribes. “If you want to do business, you bring $5 million and from that (money) we take U$1 million that we will give to the president (Mugabe).”

This is item number five. these brothers wanted to be paid for merely being there-the textbook definition of a gate-keeper.

Dr. Cuthbert Dube, chairperson of a public services medical insurance society (PSMAS) received a monthly salary of $500 000 when lower end workers were going for months without wages.

When I pointed out this anomaly to my friend, an accountant, I got the retort; “Kenny, don’t be stupid.” 

It stretches the imagination to believe that Dube was the only beneficiary of this largesse. Such huge sums of money cannot be paid out without the knowledge of the chairman of the board.

Dube’s case shows that the whole PSMAS outfit was rotten to the core. This applies to Mahachi, as well as to the cases of Nigerian industrialist Dangote and Chivayo.

This is item number five.

There are two issues here. These brothers were in most cases being paid for work which was not done at all. And they externalized their ill-begotten fruits.

The second point I am making is that while we should be ululating when these brothers are brought before the law, each time one chef is brought; it becomes apparent that there were other “untouchables” who benefitted from the scandal. Is there any among our readers who believe that Dube “ate” (Zimbabwean English) all the loot by himself?

Selective justice is worse than no justice at all.

There is a need for a Star Chamber (Court), approved by parliament, given wide powers of sentencing, to make plea deals, recovery of assets in exchange for going free and investigating accomplices. Without the benefit of such a court, we will never know who were the behind the scenes beneficiaries of corruption.

Secondly, the Mutare-Harare road contract was awarded to South Africans, who recruited Zimbabwean engineers and earth movers to do the work. External contracts are therefore a ruse to externalize incomes.

The allegations against Professor Francis Gudyanga illustrate my point perfectly. When he was Mines and Mining Development permanent secretary, he is alleged to have “forced payment of U$1.629 500 to a Glammer (Pvt) Ltd , a foreign firm.” The money disappeared into thin air. 

I was home when he first appeared before a magistrate. He expressed his bitterness over what he thought was selective prosecution. To my surprise, rather than deny the charge, he felt that other fish, much bigger than himself, had helped themselves to much larger sums, without facing prosecution.

Zimbabweans are now asking why life has not improved, as promised. Alex  Magaisa has introduced the idea of a Zimbabwe oligarchy.I suggest that there are two levels, one consisting if the movers and shakers of the regime and the second level consisting of the deplorable, the war veterans and chimbwindos. The lower level oligarchy must protect themleves from vulnerability by singing hymns and psalms to “numero uno.”  My niece expressed it this way. African presidents are like African boyfriends, the send one is worse than the first.

Professor Jonathan Moyo, who is now singing a new hymn of protector of the people’s freedom, says that a new oligarchy may be forming aroung ED. It consists of loyalists groomed from ED’s clansmen and tribesmen and geographically from the Midlands and Masvingo provinces.

Old habits die hard. The president assumes the chancellorships of more than ten universities. That is a silly idea. We need not tarry further.

Excessive travel abroad is a Mugabe idea, also intended to externalize revenues. In every trip, there is a treasurer who carries a bag full of US dollars. Those dollars which remain unspent never return to the Zimbabwe treasury. My information is that each trip can cost as much as U$3 million.

There are fifty-two weeks per year. Do your own mathematics.

Tafadzwa Musarara, president of the Grain Millers Association joined the 30 member Zimbabwe delegation to Belgium for a conference on diamonds. The United Arab Emirates, which conducts a U $6 billion business, compared to Zimbabwe’s U$300 million per year, sent three envoys.

ZANU-PF should adopt a new concept of humility. The Bollar has never been of equal value to the US dollar.

The two percent tax is extortionist. Fullstop.

The $700 traffic fine is an enticement to the motorist to offer the police a bribe.