Nepotism at the top

BY CHIEF REPORTER
HARARE
President Robert Mugabe has over the past 27-years diverted plum political jobs and State-funded contracts not only to his favourite nephews and nieces, but also to a network of extended families belonging to his Gushungo clan.
Among a list of Mugabe's clansmen are

hugely wealthy businessmen, a former head of the state-run radio and TV, government ministers, the former boss of the national football association, top civil servants, and members of parliament.
The best-known beneficiaries are his favourite sister, Sabina Mugabe, and her children. Since independence in 1980, Sabina Mugabe has been the MP for the Mugabe family’s home area Zvimba, about 80 kilometres northwest of Harare. She also holds a senior position in the ruling Zanu (PF) party’s influential Women’s League. All of Sabina’s children, except one, Patrick Zhuwawo, use her maiden surname. Mugabe recently appointed Zhuwao into his cabinet as deputy minister of youth.
Sabina’s eldest son, Innocent Mugabe, was director of the Central Intelligence Organisation until his death in June 2000 after unspecified surgery. Her second son, Leo Mugabe, is probably the most prominent Mugabe relative to amass huge wealth since independence. Leo is Makonde MP. He is also owner and chief executive of Integrated Engineering Group, a construction and telecommunications consortium. IEG has been awarded contracts running into billions of dollars to construct public buildings and facilities, often ahead of more experienced construction companies. His biggest coup came in 1996 when, in association with the Cyprus-based Air Harbour Technologies, IEG won the contract to build the Harare International Airport terminal. The company’s tender was fourth behind bids from established international airport building companies. Leo has allegedly been involved in a number of shady deals and was recently let off the hook after being arrested on charges of externalizing flour to Zambia. He was released on Mugabe’s orders. Until a vote of no confidence in him three years ago, Leo was chairman of the Zimbabwe Football Association (ZIFA). Critics in the soccer fraternity say he was inept and blame him squarely for the decline of the national team.
Up until the time he was appointed deputy minister by Mugabe, Zhuwawo ran his brother Leo’s IEG businesses. He is also a former member of the CIO.
Other families who have benefited from the Mugabe tie include the Ushewokunze family. This family is related to Mugabe through his mother, Bona, who was a strong influence on him. Mugabe appointed two Ushewokunze uncles, now both dead, as ministers in his Zanu (PF) government.
Herbert Ushewokunze held various cabinet posts and was also political commissar, a vital job in Zanu (PF)’s communist-style Politburo. However, Herbert, a medical doctor, was one of the few Mugabe relatives who could claim to have risen through merit. A veteran nationalist, he was in exile in Mozambique during the 1970s war which ended white-minority rule. Unlike other relatives, he clashed with Mugabe in government. But although he was demoted several times, he was never really dropped. At the time of his death in 1995, he was the chairman of the influential Harare Zanu (PF) provincial executive committee. – To be continued next week.

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