Mliswa corruption inquiry witness: Mugabe tolerated graft

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By Audience Mutema

FORMER President Robert Mugabe abated corruption by making it difficult for people in the private sector to report cases in which public officials demanded bribes, businessman James Goddard has told Parliament.

Goddard is a star witness in the parliamentary inquiry into claims former members of the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Mines including ex-chairperson Temba Mliswa demanded a bribe from him.

Mliswa has denied the claims. During cross-examination by Zanu PF, Gokwe Kabuyuni MP, Leonard Chikomba’s lawyer Simon Musabatika, before the Parliamentary Privilege Committee, Goddard said by contrast President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s administration was more accommodative of whistleblowers.

“Under the new dispensation, President Mnangagwa wants to do things properly. He wants to do things transparently.

“We want to do things in a proper way and the private sector has welcomed that,” said Goddard.

Musabatika went on to question Goddard if it was his first time to be asked to pay a bribe.

“Was it your first time or encounter to receive a request for money from government officials, and how did you deal with the situation,” asked Musabatika.

To this Goddard responded: “For the last 38 years, there have been many requests for ‘sanitations’ of one form or another. But most of them I was able to avert or avoid them.”

While admitting that he had at some point given in to demands for bribes, Goddard claimed he had instead assisted communities rather than individuals.

“There are things one had to do but I then resorted to doing these in kind in order to benefit a community or society rather than an individual,” Goddard told the committee.

Goddard claims Norton Independent MP, Mliswa, opposition MDC Magwegwe and Binga MPs Anele Ndebele, Prince Dubeko Sibanda respectively and Chikomba demanded a US$400 000 bribe from him so that they could help him secure a contract with Hwange Colliery Mine.

The demand was allegedly made as the then Mines Committee was investigating reports of corruption involving government and Hwange mine officials as well as the parastatal’s contractors or business partners.