REPEATED corruption allegations levelled against President Emmerson Mnangagwa and his family have blighted Zimbabwe’s fight on graft, making a mockery of his “zero tolerance” stance.
Mnangagwa has often been implicated in messy scandals as several dodgy deals worth millions are either linked to him or his family.
Last week, Zimbabweans expressed outrage over the government’s intention to evict 12 500 villagers from their ancestral land in the Chilonga area of Chiredzi to pave way for a Lucerne project being run by Mnangagwa’s cronies at private company Dendairy.
As investigated by The NewsHawks, the Lucerne project is a cover-up for the state’s bid to exploit diamonds in the area, to the detriment of powerless villagers who, being an ethnic minority, have been marginalised for years.
What has unsettled citizens is that Mnangagwa’s friends at Dendairy, the Cotzee family, is at the helm of the project, which has been touted as beneficial to national economic development.
It is also further worrying that the head of state is often implicated in such dodgy deals, while his association with questionable elements also weakens his rhetoric on the fight against corruption.
Since his rise to power on the back of a 2017 coup, Mnangagwa has often made headlines for his involvement and implication in shady transactions.
For a leader who pledged “zero tolerance” to corruption, Mnangagwa has scored poorly in nipping the problem in the bud. Memories of the US$60 million Drax Covid-19 public procurement scandal are still fresh and the US$3 billion Command Agriculture outrage remains unsolved, even after Parliament held a series of public hearings on several occasions.
Command Agriculture is the brainchild of Mnangagwa which was blighted by high-level graft where officials misused state funds for personal gain.
Mnangagwa, who presented himself to the world as a pragmatic leader after benefitting from the toppling of Robert Mugabe, has continued the ruinous path of his long-time mentor, whose name was also synonymous with corruption which has been blamed for Zimbabwe’s economic failure.
Unsurprisingly, 78-year-old Mnangagwa was a major player in Mugabe’s corrupt and repressive state machinery.
His involvement in illicit Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) diamond deals is well documented alongside that of army officials. The ghost of corruption still haunts Mnangagwa, two decades after the DRC war.
Mnangagwa was named in the United Nations report as a key strategist for the Zimbabwean arm of the illicit network.
In an investigative report in 2013, Spanish newspaper El Pais, named Mnangagwa as a key figure in facilitating the smuggling of diamonds from the DRC via the then Harare International Airport.
Mnangagwa’s tainted record has been amplified by the escapades of his family, who have become notorious for sticking their fingers in the “honey pot”.
The Mnangagwa family, including his eldest son, the twins Collins, Sean and First Lady Auxillia have hit the headlines for the wrong reasons in recent years.
Their appetite for opaque deals has not gone unnoticed.
Last year Mnangagwa’s sons were embroiled in the Drax Covid-19 scandal but in a slippery fashion they escaped unscathed.
Mnangagwa was forced to fire his close ally Obadiah Moyo as Health and Child Care minister after it was revealed that he played a key role in facilitating the dodgy Drax International deal. Collins’ alleged close associate Delish Nguwaya, who is the Zimbabwe representative for Drax International, was arrested over the scandal.
Nguwaya has been pictured at different places with members of Mnangagwa’s family in the wake of claims that they have close ties. Collins has denied that he is friends with the controversial businessman.
Mnangagwa’s wife Auxillia and son Collins were also embroiled in the Henrietta Rushwaya gold smuggling case late last year.
Rushwaya, who is now out of jail, had been caught allegedly attempting to smuggle six kilogrammes of gold from Harare to Dubai.
Auxillia swiftly moved to clear her family’s name, issuing a statement and challenging the police to also prove their involvement in the case.
In a recent move to protect its business interests, the First Family has moved to push out former vice-president Kembo Mohadi.
Investigations by The NewsHawks show that Mohadi had clashed with the First Family over the US$300 million border renovation by Zimborders, fronted by Glynn Cohen, who is linked to the Mnangagwa family. Mohadi’s embarrassing fall from grace was okayed by Mnangagwa himself after clashes over business interests in Penhalonga.
The Mnangagwas also clashed with Mohadi over Redwing Mine in Penhalonga, Manicaland province. Zimbabwe’s then largest gold-mining group Metallon Gold, owned by South African tycoon Mzi Khumalo, suspended operations at its Redwing Mine in 2014 due to flooding.
Mohadi was hit by a Central Intelligence Organisation operation which recorded his calls and messages with a harem of women — some of them married — using spyware developed by Israeli technology company Circles.
Political analyst Stephen Chan said state capture is endemic in Zimbabwe.
“It is usually expressed as state capture by corrupt corporate interests. However, what we are seeing in Zimbabwe follows a pattern seen throughout the African continent, and that is corporate capture by leading figures of state, often by corrupt means, so that the phenomenon of the party-corporation-state is an everyday reality. That certainly is the case right now in Zimbabwe,” Chan said.
Political scientist Ibbo Mandaza said Mnangagwa’s corruption was well documented and should not be analysed in isolation.
“Obviously, his name is dominant everywhere, the Qatar report and many others. You need to trace all the allegations against him. No one seems to reference any of that, but there is ample evidence.
Mnangagwa and the late SB Moyo were central to the DRC diamonds scandal. Emmerson always stands behind, saying that these are rumours and saying people hate him, but there is evidence to that effect,” Mandaza said.