By Blessed Mhlanga/Harriet Chikandiwa and Everson Mushava
Zanu PF youth leaders yesterday labelled President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s ally Kuda Tagwirei “the most corrupt person in the country” at an extraordinary Press conference that also exposed growing factionalism in the party after they were barred from using the ruling party’s headquarters for their address.
Zanu PF youth league deputy secretary Lewis Matutu and national youth commissar Godfrey Tsenengamu held their Press conference at the Media Centre in the city centre, with party insiders saying they had been ordered not to use the Zanu PF HQ by top party officials who described their conduct as an attack on President Emmerson Mnangagwa.
“Matutu and Tsenengamu were told to use other venues, and not the Zanu PF HQ,” a source based at the party headquarters told NewsDay yesterday.
“They were told by (party chairperson) Oppah Muchinguri that their Press briefing was a personal matter. It was a show of disrespect to President Mnangagwa.
“The President appointed a commission to look into allegations of corruption by the youths and he is still to receive a report from the commission. The youth’s actions will be, therefore, seen as a way of saying the President has failed.”
Matutu and Tsenengamu also named Green Fuels boss Billy Rautenbach and Grain Millers Association of Zimbabwe chairperson Tafadzwa Musarara, who they said with the help of the central bank, they had monopolised the economy, fiddled with foreign currency exchange rates, while allegedly corruptly grabbing all government tenders.
“Let me talk about Tagwirei. I really want to know why he is the one who supplies everything to government — fuel. If we go to Command Agriculture, it’s him at the helm.
“There was an attempt to investigate him, but he evaded. He has tentacles everywhere, including the money on the black market, he controls that. We are waiting for him to dispute that because we also do these things after research,” Matutu said.
Matutu and Tsenengamu issued a disclaimer that they were representing themselves, and not the party as the Zanu PF youth league released a statement via its Twitter handle distancing itself from the Press conference while the two were addressing the media.
They accused Tagwirei of having a hand in and propping up machete gangs in a grand scheme of looting gold from the country and with the aid of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe and controlling the foreign currency while hiding behind political leadership.
“We believe that President Mnangagwa deserves genuine support, although we don’t want to align our views to the party, but these people are stealing and lying that they have support from political leadership. Tagwirei says the names of the President and his deputies everywhere he goes. This must end now,” Matutu charged.
Tagwirei is believed to have strong links with the Presidium, particularly Mnangagwa and his Vice-President Constantino Chiwenga, who have openly declared their links with the businessman in the past.
MDC vice-president Tendai Biti has in the past accused Tagwirei and companies linked to him of corruption and looting with the aid of Zanu PF, although the allegations have been swept aside by the ruling party.
Biti, who heads the Public Accounts Committee in Parliament, has been arguing that Tagwirei and companies linked to him looted over US$3 billion from government through the Command Agriculture programme and his attempt to have Tagwirei and the companies, including Sakunda and Trafigura, hauled before Parliament to answer to charges of misappropriation were blocked by Zanu PF legislators.
Matutu also went after independent commissions — Judicial Services Commission (JSC) and Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (Zacc) — accusing them of sleeping on the job and demanding that magistrates and judges step down if they fail to live up to the demands of their jobs.
“We are worried about the Judiciary Services Commission. Our Judiciary systems are on holiday, but I think if they don’t want to work anymore, they must resign.
“I don’t think that from the time issues of corruption have been hotting up inasmuch as efforts have been put, we have achieved convictions that go beyond three … What are they doing instead of convicting people who are stealing from the country while we watch? Are they part of it? Is there someone telling them not to prosecute?” Matutu asked.
Matutu said they would be presenting their evidence to Zacc this morning.
Zacc spokesperson John Makamure said: “We look forward to their visit. They said they are coming to Zacc, so we wait for them and hope they come because last time, they did not come. We have been saying all along that any Zimbabwean with evidence of corruption should come forward with it.”
Zanu PF secretary for administration Obert Mpofu said: “Why are you asking that question when those who addressed the Press conference said they are doing so in their individual capacity? Treat it as such. It was not a party programme.”
Tsenengamu gave government and Zanu PF leadership an ultimatum to choose sides — either to stand with the “majority” or Tagwirei.
“We are asking leadership, do you chose to support Kuda or you stand with the people? This is where we are going, that you support Kuda and keep feeding or you come to the people, even those in government offices? This is the challenge that we have,” he said. NewsDay