By Anna Chibamu
INDEPENDENT Norton legislator, Temba Mliswa has challenged securocrats to account for “proceeds” from Zimbabwe’s participation in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) war of the late 1990’s.
Late Laurent Kabila, the then DRC president, sought the assistance of Zimbabwe Defence Forces (ZDF) to fend off insurgency in return for mineral concessions in that country.
The deal between Kabila and then President Robert Mugabe was kept under wraps amid suspicion the late strongman and his inner circle, including army generals, amassed rich pickings.
Mliswa was speaking during a recent pre-budget meeting of Parliament in Harare.
“Zimbabwe joined the DRC war and there was supposed to be something for us. I would want to know what has happened to that because when we go there, it is a service. I look at the police, the prison and the army as a service. They are there to generate money.
“We have a history in terms of resources being given to the Defence ministry. At times it is a question of mismanagement of resources. So while we are talking about resources, the critical issue is their management.”
Mliswa challenged Defence Minister Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri to deal with rampant corruption in the army and airforce.
He said there was massive mismanagement of resources of the Defence and Home Affairs ministries.
Mliswa’s contribution came after Muchinguri-Kashiri’s disturbing report on the defence forces’ poor condition of service where soldiers were reportedly being served sadza and beans daily, and some staying in old dilapidated barracks countrywide.
“The buying of uniforms is corruption and I have to say it because I am a true Zimbabwean. Why are you buying uniforms when you have 100 sewing machines? There is quite a lot of corruption in the defence forces.
“It is only me who is protected by God and my ancestors who can speak about it. Even when I spoke about Rusununguko, people said, ‘Mliswa une chokwadi, wakatsika papi?. Ndikati ndakatsika pana Mwari nevadzimu vangu nenyika. Hapana kumwe kwandakatsika. People are scared to talk about it. Corruption is rampant,” Mliswa said.
“Look at the empowerment of war veterans through ZESCO where a lot of money was given. What happened to it? We want to talk about Rusununguko which I know minister (Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri) you are new in that portfolio but its on record, the resources that were given.
“So if we are not honest about the management of resources, then it will be very difficult for people to believe that the nation is doing anything to accommodate them,” added the MP.
The aspect of Zimbabwe Defence Industries (ZDI) came up as Mliswa urged for its resuscitation.
“The ZDI, what has happened to it? We spoke about the uniforms which you are buying. For example, schools like ZRP, built for police officers’ children but it is now full of people from outside the force. It is difficult for us to move ahead without accountability. There is abuse of state resources. Last line of defence must never be compromised.
“I can tell you that it is very difficult to get a report from the resources given to the Defence ministry. It is my prayer that we forget about those reports now and get new ones. At least you can account for them in the Second Republic. Zvana Rusununguko zvinonetsa kumaGenerals. Tongonamata mosiyana nazvo mopiwa zvinyowani then motangira ipapo.”
Mliswa warned that the security service was sensitive, therefore, must never be compromised calling for it to be depoliticised.
“Let us depoliticise the security sector. There is too much unnecessary politics in this sector. Let it be professional. It is my prayer that our leaders leave the security sector alone,” Mliswa said.
Poorly-paid soldiers have become ring leaders in armed robberies happening in the country.