probes Mugabe claims over palace funding
Beh Lih Yi
Two ministers have said this would be investigated. Parliamentary Opposition Leader Lim Kit Siang said this morning that Mugabe’s statement "is shocking".
"I call on the government to issue a ministerial statement as we want to know whether we have secretly and unlawfully funded the 25-bedroom mansion," he told a press conference in the Parliament.
As we reported here yesterday, Mugabe told British Sky News that Malaysia and China had financed his mansion.
Mugabe did not disclose the exact sum involved or when the money had been channelled to him. In the same interview, he said former Malaysian premier Dr Mahathir Mohamad had provided the timber for the structure.
Lim asked how, if at all, the Malaysian government could have provided funds since Mugabe has a reputation for dictatorial leadership. "(There is) no moral and political reason for us to do that," he said, pointing out that no audit report has been tabled in Parliament pertaining to the alleged funding, which may involve taxpayers’ money.
"We know Mugabe is a good friend of Mahathir... (But) there was no parliamentary approval to fund this rotten and corruptible regime," said Lim, who is DAP chairperson and Ipoh Timor MP. He said it would be an "unprecedented case" for a government to fund another government leader’s mansion, if the claim is proven true.
Speaking to Malaysiakini later, Deputy Foreign Minister Joseph Salang Gandum said he is unaware of Mugabe’s statement. "I will check on it. But I don’t think the government would have funded the mansion, (although) we do assist (the Zimbabwean government) in other aspects such as human resources. But it is quite impossible (that we have funded) a mansion," he said at Parliament House.
Asked whether an investigation would be carried out, he replied: "Let us check (on this) first."
Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Mustapa Mohamed - who oversees national economic planning - refused to comment when asked about this yesterday. "We will check, thanks for the information," he said.
Meanwhile, corruption watchdog Kuala Lumpur Society for Transparency and Integrity said the government owes the public an explanation for the revelation. "If true, the government must explain why it funded such a luxury for a political head reputed to be a dictator," said its deputy president Param Cumaraswamy in a statement today.
Kuala Lumpur Society for Transparency and Integrity is the local chapter of Transparency International. He said Zimbabwe was in serious political and economic disorder, and that the annual inflation rate is 620 percent and climbing.
rate exceeds 70 percent. One in four Zimbabweans is HIV positive; 2,000
die every week. Agriculture output has been so ravaged that Zimbabwe
now has the highest number of citizens starving to death in Africa,"
he said. He also cited comments by a spokesperson for Transparency International
(Zimbabwe Chapter), who is reported to have said that it has become
"absolutely essential" for Mugabe to disclose his sources
of foreign currency used to pay for all imported materials for his private
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