By Ken Mufuka
My computers have been going haywire-one in chatter mood, the other announcing breaking news and yet another flashing headlines across the screen, most of them concerning the arrest and abduction of journalist, Supreme Brother Hopewell Chin’ono.
After a thorough examination of the information before me, I was surprised to find how far off-side the government of Zimbabwe has been as the story unfolds.
The warrant of arrest was defective, apparently written by a judge under duress. Hopewell’s attorney, who can be seen in real time, says the warrant was short of specifics and the police were in a mood to collect everything that they fancied.
Secondly, the persons of interest in this matter are the managers of Zimbabwe’s economy, whose management and ethics border on criminal negligence and perhaps treason.
Leave Hopewell out of this. He is only a scribe. It is the economy, stupid!
A feisty woman, by the name of Alice Hungwe, whom I have never seen or heard from before, but says that she is my young mother (aminini) sought to educate me through her WHATSAPP account.
The issue, simply stated is that ZANU-PF stalwarts have been living off the hog, messing things up, and then asking Zimbabwe’s taxpayers to clean up their mess.
That is the story, simple!
“Listen to me Ken,” she said. It was obvious this Mainini was not going to take any nonsense from me. “They take the white men’s farms, crops, animals, machinery and everything. They sell everything, vandalize the equipment and externalize the proceeds.”
“Yes, Mainini.” I replied.
“Under presidential inputs program, they get fertilizers, tractors and seeds. They sell everything instead of growing food.” She went on.
“Are you listening Ken?” My Mainini is unbearable, but she is my small mother. I must show her some respect.
“The country suffers from famine, and they are given contracts to buy food abroad, and they charge the government U$600 per ton when the going price is Z$240.”
Now I am beginning to get the picture. I say so, but she is not finished with me yet.
“Listen to me good. Mwana waSisi. They get some more free goods under Command agriculture. What do they produce? Nothing.” I can hear her breathing.
“Now this thing about Coronavirus, once more, they swindle the government of U$60 million. The person of interest goes to court and pays Z$50 000 in small bills. Tell me the bank which gave him Z$50 000 in small bills when I cannot get Z$300 per week?”
She asks a rhetorical question which needs no answer.
There is not a single mention of Hopewell in all this. The looters in the Command Agriculture are not of interest to the police. The German World (GW) television anchor lady asked Sibusiso Moyo whether the police are interested in the “higher ups” involved in this looting of public funds.
Of course, he denied any interest.
The issue raised by Brothers Alex Magaisa, with reference to the Farm Mechanization Program of 2007/8 is only a tip of the iceberg. Hopewell has nothing to with any of it.
Magaisa, lawyer like, has been too kind to the looters of the FMP. In an explanation to the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC), former Reserve Governor says that: “At inception (2007/8) the FMP was meant to be a loan that would be paid for by beneficiaries. After the GNU (National Unity) was consummated in 2009 and when the RBZ sought guidance on the matter, there was a change of heart. Joseph Made advised… that Government had decided in 2012 to include the program as part of its national Mechanization and Irrigation and that was the end of the story.” (sic)
The Governor is avoiding the issue here. The issue, as he has stated, was that at inception meant to be a loan. In its decision to include the FMP in the irrigation program, the Ministry of Agriculture did not “end the story” as he says because the matter came up later in 2015.
What the Governor is avoiding is the fact that the fat cats had no intention of paying back. This view is supported by the Auditor General in 2010. She questioned why beneficiaries had not been told the true costs of the implements, nor were they told when, to whom, and how the payments were to be made.
I can answer that for you. They had no intention of paying.
Hopewell is nowhere to be found in all this.
There is another anomaly. Consultations about whether to pay or not to pay were done after the equipment was already in the hands of the farmers. That issue was addressed by the Auditor General. We will not delay the reader any further.
The question now is that the procedures were sloppy at best, as already indicated by the Auditor General. Whether intentional or not, they amount to gross negligence. If intentional, they are outright treasonous.
In all this Hopewell is nowhere to be seen.
There is definitely a pattern of abuse of public funds, beginning with Coronavirus supplies, Zupco buses, Tanzanian maize supplies, Command Agriculture, and the Presidential inputs program. If I were to make a big deal out of it, there would no end to the list.
Hopewell is a journalist and a publicist. So am I. There is nothing illegal about that. While no person of interest in all the shenanigans listed above has been brought to book to my knowledge, the economy continues to fall apart.
It is the economy that has exposed the entire fly by night deals.
The persons of interest continue, like those in Sodom and Gomorrah, to dance, marry, trade under the table with impunity, act out and cut up, and even challenge those like Hopewell who look into their affairs.
To be sure, the names of the FMP beneficiaries were kept under lock and key. We know for certain that Attorney Beatrice Mtetwa requested the list and was denied.
Professor Magaisa has done Zimbabweans a favor by publishing the list. Here is the juicy bit of the list. The honorable president received U$411,728, Maphid Mnangagwa, a relative got U$93,111, Gerald Mlotshwa, president’s son in law got away with U$59,605 and just for the heck of it Malawi president Bingu wa Mutharika skipped town with U$124,111.
The police are investigating Hopewell leaving other persons of interest in plain sight.
My Mainini had the last word. “Kenny, Mwanangu, I tell you that man is a serious candidate for interrogation by ZACC (Anti-Corruption Commission).” She said.
“Which one?” I asked.
“Have you been listening to what I said?” She concluded.
If anybody knows this Mainini of mine, Alice Hungwe, please let me know.
(I ken Mufuka can be reached at email@example.com)