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Tendai Biti


‘Government pays lip service to transparency’

FORMER Finance minister Tendai Biti has poured cold water on deputy Finance minister Kudakwashe Mnangagwa’s call for transparency and accountability on the capital markets.




FORMER Finance minister Tendai Biti has poured cold water on deputy Finance minister Kudakwashe Mnangagwa’s call for transparency and accountability on the capital markets.

Biti criticised the government’s half-hearted approach to tackling corruption.

According to Transparency International, Zimbabwe scored 24 points out of 100 on the 2023 Corruption Perceptions Index from the previous year’s score 23 points. The southern African nation is ranked 157 out of 180 countries indicating high level of perceived public sector corruption.

Biti said the government has been reluctant to ensure the total elimination of corruption within the economy, citing mining in particular.  He was responding to remarks made by

Mnangagwa during the official opening of the inaugural Capital Markerts Conference held in Nyanga this week.

“That is the most hypocritical statement coming from someone who is right in the middle of opaqueness in Zimbabwe,” Biti said.

“They are presiding over massive opaqueness in diamonds, in gold, in lithium, in platinum.

“This is one of the most corrupt countries in Africa and it is the last country that is standing to speak on corruption and transparency.”

The deputy Finance minister told delegates attending the conference that accountability and transparency are critical in attracting investments into the country.

“Internationally, demand for transparency, trust and accountability are on the rise, and since we are part of the global capital flows, these are our responsibility too, if we are to be a relevant and credible player, in the drive to secure greater inbound investment,” Mnangagwa said.

In April, civil society and local communities at the Chiadzwa diamond fields demanded transparency in the disbursement of royalties by the government and mining companies.

The 2021-25 National Development Strategy (NDS) identifies high levels of corruption as well as low citizen participation in democratic and governance processes as major factors behind the poor quality delivery of public services.

Transparency International estimated that from 2000 to 2020, Zimbabwe lost approximately US$32 billion through illicit financial flows (IFFs) with illegal external outflows linked to tax evasion, money laundering and other financial crimes including corruption.

The Mutapa Investment Fund has been identified as directly involved in opacity by unconstitutionally conducting its transactions and activities.

“The Mutapa Fund is directly involved is the most opaque process where shares have been transferred to an opaque fund without valuation, where filings are made permanent without public disclosure and parliamentary role,” Biti.

Last year, President Emmerson Mnangagwa controversially promulgated Statutory Instrument 156 of 2023 which changed the name of the Sovereign Wealth Fund of Zimbabwe to Mutapa Investment Fund (MIF). No official reasons have been given for the renaming of the fund.

State enterprises or parastatals now commandeered to be under the MIF include Defold Mine, Zupco, Kuvimba, Silo Investments (Grain Marketing Board commercial arm), the National Oil Company of Zimbabwe, the Cold Storage Commission, Petrotrade, POSB, NetOne Cellular, the National Railways of Zimbabwe Holdings and NRZ Ltd, TelOne, Arda Seeds, Zimbabwe Power Company, Powertel, Allied Timbers, Telecel Zimbabwe, Air Zimbabwe, Industrial Development Corporation, Cottco, AFC Limited and Hwange Colliery.

Critics said the effect of putting all the companies under one roof is to create a behemoth whose operations and transactions are not subject to public procurement laws, parliamentary oversight or disclosure to the public.

This, they said, undermines constitutional principles of good governance, transparency and accountability.

The fund’s managers and employees are “sworn to secrecy”, further making it opaque and vulnerable to corruption, while blocking access to information.

The fund will be able to transfer and externalise forex without foreign exchange controls.

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