Zim corruption: It’s Mugabe, stupid

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If he had known some of his shameless colleagues would still be serving in government today, Maurice Nyagumbo would not have hastily stampeded himself out of mother Earth
A FISH rots from the head. As Zimbabwe grapples with the scourge of corruption, which has now corroded the entire fabric of the State, this submission will posit that it is none other than President Robert Mugabe, his family and Office who are at the centre of this despicable national rot.
In our conversations in bars, churches and commuter omnibuses nowadays, it may be easy to name individual Cabinet Ministers as corrupt but is Mugabe himself who stands at the apex of this national decay. Jonathan Moyo may have “stemitised” graft in this government, but at the pinnacle of our sad national story is none other than Robert Mugabe. A stroll down our stinking national story will show that Mugabe has always been at the helm of this rot; characterized by the major corruption scandals that have sold our newspapers in the last 36 years.
It was Mugabe who presided over the shameful team of corrupt Cabinet Ministers as exposed in the Willowgate scandal and still nothing happened to those caught with their fingers in the till, except one who decided to end his life in shame. Today, one of them, Frederick Shava, is the country’s representative to the United Nations, no action having been taken against him and others for abusing their offices. If he had known some of his shameless colleagues would still be serving in government today, Maurice Nyagumbo would not have hastily stampeded himself out of mother Earth.
As I write this piece, it is Mugabe’s Office that has written to the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission to grant Minister Moyo reprieve so that he may accompany him to the graduation ceremony and the National University of Science and Technology in Bulawayo.  That a whole President could unlawfully direct an independent Commission to allow him to carry along with him Moyo’s stinking stench of corruption to Bulawayo at the expense of justice just boggles the mind.
The Constitution is clear that independent Commissions such as ZACC do not work at the direction of anyone, including the President. Is corruption in itself for the President to unlawfully direct a mandated body to grant a reprieve to a Minister accused of corruption. In any case, it was the President himself who stopped the mandated agencies from arresting Minister Moyo at a Politburo meeting a few weeks ago. It is Mugabe, and no one else, who is abetting this stinking rot in government.Advertisement

The Zimdef scandal is not the first under Mugabe’s watch, with him not taking any action. The Willowgate scandal, the War Victims Compensation Fund, the VIP Housing Scheme, the ZISCO scandal, the GMB scandal, the NOCZIM scandal and many others have all been revealed under his watch. Still, he has not taken any action against anyone and most of the named culprits have remained in government.
Mugabe himself has personally fingered in several of these scandals, which have exposed decrepit governance systems in his administration over the years. Air Harbour Technology, the company controversially awarded the tender to expand the Harare International Airport some years, reportedly ended up funding the construction of Mugabe’s private residence in Borrowdale. This has not been publicly denied.
Moreover, Grace Mugabe was one of the people named as having corruptly benefitted from the VIP Housing scheme in which top officials grabbed houses meant for low income earners in the civil service. That is not to mention a doctorate she corruptly obtained at the University of Zimbabwe where Mugabe himself is chancellor.  There are other cases such as the multi-million-dollar power project in Dema and the appointment of Mugabe’s own son-law, Simba Chikore, to head the national airline that all point to graft in this country being brewed nowhere else but right in the First family and the President’s Office.
Only recently, we heard that the Zimbabwe National Road Authority (ZINARA), headed by Albert Mugabe, a relative of the President, doled out $500,000 for the repair of the Robert Mugabe highway that leads to the Mugabes’ rural home in Zvimba.  Never mind that less than 30 percent of the country’s road network is usable, the national road authority headed by a Mugabe, thought it prudent to give priority to a highway called Mugabe that leads to the Mugabes’ rural home. Surely such brazen corruption stinks to the high heavens above.
If one considers the deployments of Simba Chikore, Albert Mugabe, Patrick Zhuwao and many others linked to the Mugabe family, we may yet be witnessing another classic case of State capture that shall fully be told one of these good days.
Then we come to Mugabe’s own office where all the people associated with graft and avarice are his direct appointments. Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa, an infamous culprit named in a United Nations report for alleged plundering of diamonds, timber and other resources in the DRC, is now Mugabe’s deputy. Mugabe’s other deputy, Phelekezela Mphoko, recently went to Avondale Police Station in the dead of the night to spirit out two suspects from lawful police custody. Mphoko, then an acting President, tellingly alleged he was rescuing the two on the orders of the First family.
It is equally telling that the two suspects, Moses Juma and Dumisani Norupiri, are senior employees at ZINARA, where Albert Mugabe, the President’s nephew, is board chairman. Mugabe’s other underling in his own office has been in the news for grabbing a farm in violation of a court order. The President’s spokesperson, George Charamba, has been fingered in the multi-million-dollar corruption at the Public Service Medical Aid Society (PSMAS).
Charamba is now a regular news item, urging corrupt ministers to carry their own crosses without telling us what happened to his own crucifixion. He has not told us when he will return the over $200,000 he received as allowances when he sat as a board member at the troubled institution that owed creditors $119 million and was failing to dispense medical services to poor civil servants struggling to pay their monthly subscriptions. Charamba has neither returned the money nor has he explained himself in his dreary weekly column, rich in diction and sound-bite but with an astounding famine of substance and facts.
The nation may shout itself hoarse, naming this or that Cabinet Minister as corrupt but the main culprit is Mugabe. We have seen how he has been personally involved in murky deals himself and protected corrupt people over the years. As a nation, let us do away with this needless circumlocution when it comes to issues of corruption. The President must account. After all, he is ultimately in charge.
One may not, everyday, be touted to be the country’s centre of power but then conveniently choose to recuse themselves from their fulcrum status when it comes to matters of graft and corruption in the country’s body politic. The centre must remain the centre, both in matters of development and in this unmitigated graft. Mugabe must “Magufulify” his administration and cleanse it of this decay.
Someone must take responsibility and in this case, it’s Mugabe, stupid!
Luke Tamborinyoka doubles as Presidential spokesperson and Director of Communications in the MDC led by Morgan Tsvangirai. He writes here in his official capacity.