State of the nation

Mugabe snubs lifejacket

Just when it seemed EU-Zimbabwe relations were on the mend, President Robert Mugabe – incensed by Grace’s visa denial – rebuffed the EU-Africa Brussels summit. Recently, deputy foreign affairs minister, Chris Mutsvangwa, requested French envoy Laurent Delahousse to mediate a ‘ceasefire’ with Britain.

George Charamba
George Charamba

“We want the British and their companies to come and resume business here,” he said. Unfortunately Mugabe has placed his ego ahead of national interests. The Look East policy has not been as successful as had been anticipated, with China declining Zimbabwe’s repeated pleas for financial assistance.

Only last week, Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa asked the ZRP to ‘bear with us,’ as there is no money to fund police operations, which are curtailed by shortage of motor vehicles and even basic stationary. As well as claiming they will create 2,2M jobs in five years, Zanu (PF) promised economic revival, on the back of mining and agriculture. Mining remains chaotic, with diamond revenues unaccounted for and agriculture is unlikely to expand after government abolished the inputs scheme.

The IMF has warned of continuing tough times in Zimbabwe. In the absence of funding, ZimAsset – Zanu (PF)’s economic recovery plan – remains nothing but a mirage. Despite the targeted measures, the EU has continued to provide humanitarian aid and has pledged to release $85-100M towards the repair of Kariba Dam, which is in danger of collapse.

Mother of the nation?

Seeking to gain sympathy, Zanu (PF) has made the Mugabe-EU issue a racial one yet it stems from violation of property and human rights. The EU has certainly not selected Mugabe’s delegation. Grace Mugabe is on the targeted measures list and is in no way a necessary part of the meeting. She insists of calling herself mother of the nation, while showing no regard for the plight of her countrymen. If she really cared for the ordinary Zimbabweans she should see her visa denial as an opportunity to save public funds.

Against Mugabe’s repeated claims of being ‘as fit as a fiddle,’ George Charamba says Grace is Mugabe’s caregiver. If indeed he is so healthy then surely it is not necessary for him to travel with a caregiver, especially one with a penchant for costly overseas shopping trips. Quoting the Bible Charamba says ‘what God has brought together, let no man take asunder.’ Which is strange because Grace was at one time Mugabe’s mistress. She herself came between what God had brought together.

Mugabe is an expert at generating smokescreens to evade real issues facing the country. The Mugabe-EU spat is only another opportunity to attempt to bamboozle a restless electorate to whom he owes numerous unfulfilled election promises.

The ship has capsized and, with sharks circling, Mugabe has refused to climb aboard the lifeboat. Unfortunately, it is the impoverished masses who will suffer the consequences of his stubbornness.

Gushungo’s golden boy

Mugabe toured Gideon Gono’s farm recently – a show of support for his personal banker whose political aspirations have been frustrated by some influential party members. State media journalists –ever compliant pawns in the Zanu (PF) power wrangle – have conspired to deny Gono any publicity, which must be a shock to the system of a man who dominated headlines during the hyperinflationary decade.

Gushing with compliments, Mugabe said the former RBZ chief borrowed money to finance his chicken farming venture, which is strange because Gono’s closest advisor at RBZ testifies that Gono pocketed money made from the central bank’s black market forex deals. Gono was Mugabe’s wingman, distributing plasma TVs, tractors and ploughs to rural voters, while Zimbabwe’s inflation reached incalculable levels.

Mugabe’s visit has increased speculation of Gono’s possible appointment to cabinet. If he were to be appointed finance minister, it would surprise no one, as it is Mugabe’s habit to reward incompetence with promotions.

“Well done for printing the Zimdollar to extinction. Here’s a ministerial job!”

Moyo on media

Information minister Jonathan Moyo has reiterated his call for the media fraternity to move away from its fascination with politics and report on socio economic issues. The man who claims to dislike all talk of elections and politics, gave his opinion on Cuthbert Dube’s recent re-election as ZIFA chairman.

“The outcome of these elections was indecent and defied rationality and purpose… the leadership that was returned had nothing to show for its performance and nothing different, new or better to offer… an administration characterised by breath-taking chaos, incompetence and corruption with no precedence since independence.”

One would think that Moyo was reading from a satirical novel set in a certain southern African country.

Mafiosos in the making

Temba Mliswa – Hurungwe West MP – recently declared that corruption, not sanctions, was the country’s biggest threat. Mliswa publically challenged transport minister Obert Mpofu to account for his vast business empire which includes controlling stake in a local bank. The Herald – obviously with an invisible hand tugging at the puppet strings – has revealed that Mliswa demanded $165M from businessman Billy Rautenbach, for whom he facilitated meetings with top government officials. There is not even a single written agreement with Rutenbach because Mliswa knew that it is unwise to document a shakedown.

In letters of demand to Rautenbach, Mliswa refers to the cause of debt as ‘consultation fees.’ Really? Consultation fees? Bribery by any name is still bribery.

In the latest of a long catalogue of scandals, Mliswa shows that ‘indigenisation’ simply means self-enrichment for the politically connected. The majority of party bigwigs are multimillionaires without having any visible business empire. Their business model revolves around shadowy deals that generate no employment and most likely do not contribute to the tax base.

Among the new generation of Zanu (PF) leaders are also Supa Mandiwanzira and Psychology Maziwisa, who were sacked from ZMDC board following the disappearance of 1,3M carats of diamonds, and Saviour Kasukuwere with his Nieebgate tender scandal.

If this is the future the party offers then we can expect to sink into a Mafia state where business deals take place under cover of tinted car windows.

Crime does pay

Suspended ZBC boss Happison Muchechetere was arrested over fraud allegations. He allegedly inflated an invoice for an outside broadcast van imported from China by ZBC. From a purchase price of $100K, Muchechetere somehow managed to devise an invoice for $1M. And, like a fighter jet emitting flares to evade heat-seeking missiles, he has accused information secretary, George Charamba, of meddling in the running of ZBC.

The disgraced CEO alleges that Charamba went above him and installed an under-qualified employee and at one point forced ZBC to finance a youth event in the permanent secretary’s Buhera home.

There may be some truth to Muchechetere’s accusations but it still does not explain how $100K invoice metamorphosed into $1M or why he awarded himself a monthly salary of $40K, while his staff went without pay for six months.

Muchechetere produced the $3,000 bail and walked out of remand prison. That the CEO of a bankrupt institution so easily produced $3,000 tells the story of just how rich Mugabe’s allies have become.

– My pen is capped. Jerà Twitter: @JeraAfrika – Email: [email protected]

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