By Zwnews Chief Correspondent, Harare
“This not a military take-over of government, we are only targeting criminals around President Robert Mugabe who are committing crimes… As soon as we have accomplished our mission we expect the situation to return to normalcy.”
“We would like to assure the nation that the President and his family are safe and sound and their security is guaranteed,” Major General Sibusiso Moyo said, slowly reading out a statement on national television, the night that Mugabe lost control.
That was the voice of the army, on the national radio and television as it took over power from their own Commander-In-Chief, Mugabe.
The words were beamed across the globe, received with disbelief, as many wander if ‘The Dictator’ had indeed fallen after 37 years at the helm, subsequently filtering news proved that to be true, sending many Zimbabweans into jubilation.
The 94 years old Mugabe, who was determined rule until he dropped ‘dead’ was in shock, as it happened when he least expected any revolt, let alone from his most loyal lieutenants ‘the army’; “What bad have I done to deserve this?” He would ask.
“You are guilty of letting criminals, and corrupt individuals surround you, at the expense of the economy,” a judge would say.
President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s ‘soft coup d’état’ against Mugabe with help of the military, was claimed to be have been premised on getting rid of corrupt elements who had hidden themselves behind Mugabe at the expense of the suffering citizenry.
The process was code named ‘operation restore legacy’.
Months down the line, in direct violation of the supposedly motives behind his ‘operation restore legacy,’ President Mnangagwa stands accused of harbouring the same criminals who drained the country’s wealth for selfish gains.
Despite confessing that corruption is one of the biggest enemies of the country, and promising to deal with the vice head on and obstinately, Mnangagwa is yet to live up to his word, as he continues to throw empty threats to his corrupt officials, while doing nothing to bring them to book.
Most recently, while commissioning two new power generator units at Kariba South Power Station, Mnangagwa repeated his threats on corrupt officials, saying his administration will not look at personalities when dealing with corrupt elements.
The President said; “Corruption at whatever level, by whosoever, will not be tolerated and perpetrators will be punished.”
However, some critics rubbish his claims as empty threats and mere sweet rally talk that will not lead the country anywhere.
African Parliamentarian Network Against Corruption chairperson James Maridadi believes the President is not being serious. He is on record challenging the Mnangagwa’s utterances arguing that corrupt people in Zimbabwe are known but, is it taking time to prosecute them.
As stated by Maridadi, Mnangagwa’s sincerity on dealing with corrupt elements will be taken seriously if he gets those implicated investigated and arrested.
Maridadi, who is also the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC-T) Member of Parliament for Mabvuku-Tafara, once told legislators in parliament early this year that the new administration’s determination to weed out corruption will be questioned if it fails to take action on its officials fingered in acts of corruption.
He said the current Minister of Home Affairs was Obert Mpofu was minister of mines when 15 billion went missing direct under his nose, and could have been probed.
Other MPs weighed in one of them Thokozani Khupe, who said Mnangagwa should start the cleansing from his cabinet alleging, that’s where most of those implicated of having finger prints in corrupt deals are.
Mpofu is said to be one of the wealthiest person in Zimbabwe, who owns various properties, and during his tenure as mines minister, he owned the Allied Bank, now non-operational.
The MPs also expressed dismay that Information Communication Technology and Cyber Security Minister Supa Mandiwanzira who is alleged to have illicitly used his office to dip his fingers into the coffers of NetOne, a parastatal which falls under his portfolio is likewise a free man.
With the exception of former Commissioner-General of the Zimbabwe Republic Police Augustine Chihuri, who was forced to resign after he was booed by a capacity crowd at the giant National Sports Stadium in Harare, during Mnangagwa’s inauguration, most of fingered individuals are still serving in various capacities in the current administration.
Meanwhile, responding to the list of companies and individuals who were alleged to have decadently externalised foreign currency, published recently by the Office of the President and Cabinet, former Finance Minister during the inclusive government era, Tendai Biti says the sum of $464 million on the list is a paltry amount given the haemorrhage in the country from corruption and illicit financial flows.
He expressed dismay that corruption is rife and that culprits are known; “Diamonds alone were $15 billion. The legitimacy and credibility of the list is undermined by those that are not there, those that we know,” notes Biti.
At the same time, according to renowned political commentator, Dr Pedzisai Ruhanya, it is a joke to expect Mnangagwa to fight against corruption.
He believes that even in rural areas villagers know that the witches in the village are never the ones to address their witchcraft deeds.
He says Mnangagwa’s list of companies and individuals who externalised foreign currency some of them (fake names) tells that the President cannot address the rot.
Another political analyst Walter Wakabikwa concurs, that President Mnangagwa’s sincerity in dealing with corruption as meant by his ‘operation restore legacy’ is questionable. He starts by questioning the motive behind, and whether there was any legacy that needed to be restored, basing against the backdrop that Mugabe had ruined everything to the extent that there was no legacy to talk of.
“The perceived or so called ‘operation restore legacy’ is nothing to go by; what legacy was being restored? Ian Smith’s, Mugabe’s or imagined?” Queries Wakabikwa.
Wakabikwa adds that looking at the situation on the ground, Mnangagwa’s perceived political opponents the G40 are the ones being sought. “This whole thing is just a victory of vengeance to settle political scores, between team Lacoste (Mnangagwa’s alleged faction) during the Mugabe era, and the G40,” he said.
G40 was a group of young ZANU PF members, who had been opposed to Mnangagwa’s ascendency to power. Members of this group have since been expelled from the ruling party, one such person being former Minister of Home Affairs, Ignatius Chombo, who was arrested for corruption, while other former ministers including Jonathan Moyo, Saviour Kasukuwere, Patrick Zhuwao fled the country.
According to the critics, Mnangagwa seems to be kicking the can down the same road used by his predecessor, of letting allegedly known corrupt senior public officials in his current administration get away with murder.
Analysts say Mnangagwa’s reluctance in dealing with corrupt public officials within his party, and cabinet could dent his chances of attracting the foreign investors, he badly need to achieve his election promise of turning around the country’s economy.
By Zwnews Chief Correspondent, Harare
Zambian Eye (Zambia)