WHEN President Emmerson Mnangagwa rose to power in 2017 on the back of a military coup, he promised to clamp down on corruption and break with the past.
Riding on international goodwill following the ouster of long-time leader Robert Mugabe, Mnangagwa’s mentor-turned-tormentor, he called his new chapter the Second Republic and undertook to mend bridges with hostile nations.
As part of its manifesto, the Zanu PF government said it would fight corruption in all its forms and create a corruption-free Zimbabwe through capacitating democratic accountability institutions like Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (Zacc), parliamentary portfolio committees, Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) while empowering citizens to report incidences of corruption.
However, five years later, the manner in which the government has dealt with several high-level corruption cases has raised eyebrows over its sincerity in fighting corruption.
For instance, in March last year, controversial businessperson Wicknell Chivayo was absolved of wrongdoing following accusations of misappropriating US$5.6 million for the 100-megawatt (MW) Gwanda solar project, after the Harare magistrates’ court agreed that there had been an unreasonable delay in the prosecution.
In 2015, Intratrek, a company owned by Chivayo, won a US$193 million tender to build a 100MW solar project, aimed at easing pressure on the dilapidated Hwange and Kariba power stations, a project that has failed to take off, eight years later.
The state-owned Zimbabwe Power Company (ZPC) in 2015 filed charges of fraud against Chivayo, accusing him of pocketing US$5 111 224 paid to him for pre-commencement works on the 100MW plant meant for the Gwanda Solar Project.
Signs of hope for the project’s take-off began showing again in July 2020, when then Energy minister Fortune Chasi said the government was going to re-establish plans to run the Gwanda Solar Project, after Intratrek had vowed to deliver the first 10MW within six months. The project has been in limbo since then.
The court victory was well received by Chivayo whom ZPC had on several occasion tried to press criminal charges against — without luck.
Legislators have also been griping over the Clerk of Parliament’s continuation of duties despite being involved in a million-dollar dollar laptop scandal.
In September last year, Parliament found itself in the eye of a storm when leaked official communication revealed that it had awarded Blinart Investments (Private) Limited a tender to supply 173 laptops for a total of US$1 602 755.77, translating to US$9 200 per gadget.
Mid-End Computers and Hardware Ltd was awarded a tender to supply 79 desktops valued at US$3 000 each.
Treasury quickly cancelled the inflated tender and blacklisted the companies involved. In a statement dated 23 September, clerk of Parliament Kennedy Chokuda released a statement blaming Parliament staffers for the “corrupt deal”.
In May, Citizens’ Coalition for Change (CCC) legislator for Kuwadzana East Chalton Hwende challenged the Speaker of Parliament to explain why Chokuda has been reporting for duty despite his involvement in the shady computer procurement tender.
“We have seen that the clerk, Mr Chokuda, someone who is facing corruption charges after the laptop issue, is still part of your procession and is the one who is taking lead to advise you on an issue of such importance that involves corruption that has never been witnessed in this country.
“We want an explanation also on why Mr. Chokuda is still coming to Parliament because he is bringing this institution of Parliament into serious disrepute. You cannot face serious charges of wanting to buy a laptop for US$9 000 and still come to Parliament and advise our Speaker. Those two matters, Madam Speaker, I am sure you are capable of ruling so that we can proceed.
“The other one (inquiry on Mudenda’s ruling), we will wait for the Speaker because we had come here today prepared for him, but we can wait for him but on those two, please can you help us with a ruling,” Hwende said.
Eyebrows have also been raised on Henrietta Rushwaya’s smuggling scandal, in which she was arrested at Robert Mugabe International Airport in Harare for allegedly attempting to smuggle six kilogrammes of gold worth US$400 000 to Dubai.
Rushwaya, who is president Emmerson Mnangagwa’s niece has since been cleared of any wrongdoing in the case in which she was accused of offering a US$5 000 bribe to an airport official to pass through the checkpoint with the gold.
This year, in the aftermath of the Gold Mafia scandal which revealed how politically-linked elites have allegedly been smuggling gold while being accused of money laundering, Rushwaya was also spared of action.
Prior, the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) had dealt with Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe security manager Cleopas Chidodo who was accused of facilitating the smuggling of contraband through the airport, David Chirozvi of Aurex Jewellery, Mehluleli Dube of Fidelity Printers as well as Fredrick Kunaka of Fidelity Printers and Refiners.
Civil society has demanded a special commission of inquiry to investigate Al Jazeera’s investigative exposé in the Gold Mafia series, after it emerged that Zimbabwe has been losing close to 200 kilogrammes of gold every month.
The Al Jazeera investigation also revealed that Zimbabwe is losing an average US$50kgs of gold per week to smuggling syndicates who claim to enjoy connections to the highest echelons of power.
Findings show that former Fidelity Printers and Refiners general manager Fradreck Kunaka and the company’s head of gold operations Mehluleli Dube were allegedly paid
US$30 000 and US$3 000 in monthly bribes by controversial Kenyan tycoon Kamlesh Pattni to facilitate illicit gold smuggling.
All the people implicated in the smuggling web are closely linked to President Emmerson Mnangagwa.
Zanu PF has also been under fire after it certified axed Public Service minister Prisca Mupfumira, who once evaded trial over US$95 million pension fund embezzlement citing insanity, leaving pensioners destitute.
The racket has seen gold smugglers transport at least US$5 million every week, with the money being laundered in United Arab Emirates banks, as shown by the documentary.
Zimbabwe’s fight against corruption is in a shambles, with the country being a non-mover on the 2022 Corruption Perception Index (CPI), with a 23/100 score, falling behind the regional average of 32/100, while ranking 157 out of 180 of the most corrupt countries in the world.
Zimbabwe has the lowest score in the Sadc region, trailing all its neighbours, with Seychelles scoring 70/100, the highest score in the sub-Saharan region, followed by neighbours Botswana with 60/100.
The country also falls below South Africa, Mozambique, Zambia and Malawi, among others, scoring 43/100, 26/100, 33/100 and 34/100 respectively.