Chiwenga, Mubaiwa saga, an expose of how Tagwirei ‘corruptly’ captures elites
"It is eminently arguable that a PEP such as Kuda Tagwirei giving a lavish gift to a Vice President exposes the latter to such a risk (conflict of interest)," Magaisa said.
The divorce proceedings of Vice President Constantino Chiwenga and Marry Mubaiwa effectively exposed how fuel tycoon Kudakwashe Tagwirei captures political elites to get business protection, says UK based law expert Alex Magaisa.
Tagwirei gave Chiwenga two cars a few years ago, one to escort his children to school and another to supervise the Command Agriculture programme.
This is contained in papers Chiwenga filed at the High Court in a matter between him and his estranged wife Mubaiwa. The former Army General is divorcing Mubaiwa after accusing her of trying to upgrade their customary marriage without his knowledge. He also slapped her with attempted murder accusations.
Mubaiwa is suffering from severe lymphoedema and spontaneous formation of abscesses whose origins have not been determined. Local doctors this week said she was in a critical, “life threatening” condition and recommended a “right high above elbow amputation” as soon as she is medically stable.
Magaisa, in his Big Saturday Read (BSR), argues that, after Mubaiwa demanded custody of a fleet of luxury vehicles, an “ill-advised Chiwenga fought back but in doing so he exposed himself.”
Magaisa said, in arguing that he had been gifted with cars by Tagwirei, a controversial businessman who gets almost all government tenders, Chiwenga admitted that a conflict of interest situation had been created in the office of the VP.
He added it was ‘unconstitutional’ for Chiwenga to accept the gift from what he called PEP (politically exposed person).
“But the more scandalous revelation was that one of the disputed luxury vehicles was bought for the Chiwengas’ children as an ‘escort car’ by businessman, Kuda Tagwirei.
“Tagwirei has gained notoriety in recent years as a classic PEP (politically exposed person), who seems to have his fingers in every part of Zimbabwe’s shrinking economic pie. He is the public face of Sakunda Holdings, a company that has been at the centre of the highly controversial and corrupt Command Agriculture scheme.”
He further exposed: “Sakunda was also the recipient of a lucrative but dodgy contract to establish the Dema Diesel Power Plant in 2016. The company, which had no knowledge or experience in electricity generation, had not even submitted a bid during the public procurement process.
“The American company which had won the tender lost it unceremoniously and it was awarded to Sakunda on a silver platter. As a key player in the fuel industry, Sakunda has also been one of the major recipients of cheap forex from the central bank over the years.
“They stink because they create the risk of conflict of interest and compromise public officers. It is common wisdom that there is nothing like free lunch. Every gift has a price. If a PEP can do that to a Vice President, what more to impecunious junior public officers? It is not surprising that efforts by the Tendai Biti-chaired Public Accounts Committee have been frustrated. The arrogance of PEPs drives them to act with impunity, even treating Parliament with contempt.
“Chiwenga’s defenders might argue that he, like any other person, is entitled to receive gifts from his friends. But he is not any other person. He is the Vice President of the country and there are certain ethical and legal obligations that require him to use more discretion.
“The Constitution of Zimbabwe contemplates these situations and includes provisions that seek to minimise conflict of interest. There is a particular one which was written with such situations in mind:
“Section 106(2) of the Constitution prohibits Vice-Presidents from ‘exposing themselves to any situation involving the risk of a conflict between their official responsibilities and private interests’. In designing this provision, inspiration was drawn from rules that apply to directors of corporations.
“The law of companies has for years prohibited directors from getting into situations that create conflict between their interests and the interests of the company. The key in this particular case is that a Vice President must not “expose” himself to a situation that involves the “risk” of a conflict of interest. The mere presence of risk is enough to trigger a breach of the provision.
“It is eminently arguable that a PEP such as Kuda Tagwirei giving a lavish gift to a Vice President exposes the latter to such a risk. It is not necessary for there to be an actual conflict. The mere presence of risk of such a conflict is enough.
“Given the many business dealings that Tagwireyi and companies related to him have with the State, his gift to Chiwenga creates such a risk of a conflict of interest. The Vice President should not be accepting such gifts,” Magaisa wrote.