By Takura Zhangazha*
Zanu Pf factionalism appears to be taking on a new turn in relation to allegations of corruption via state contracts, public owned enterprises, mining concessions and private capital. In what appears to having been an already existent but complex web of linkages between political power, public resources/enterprises and private capital there are new allegations of corruption that have a tinge of being related to the current succession battles in the ruling party.
The most telling of these examples in recent weeks have occurred in two specific developments. The first and most significant being the decision by government not to renew mining licenses to diamond extraction companies operating in the Chiadzwa district of Manicaland province. It turns out, in this case, that government, according to President Mugabe, has failed to get the companies operating there to account for at least US$15 billion. It is obviously a major and unprecedented corruption scandal where a country allegedly loses almost three times its annual government budget.
The second less significant scandal has emerged around the state owned telecommunications company, NetOne. The chief executive of the company has been suspended ostensibly because there is need for a forensic audit to be undertaken by the auditor-general and as instructed by the NetOne board.
The matter took a new twist when the NetOne board last week sought to clarify allegations around issues of tenders awarded to a company referred to as Bopela and the role of suspended company executives. As a matter of course more NetOne employees have been suspended in relation to what the board has called underhand dealings around awarding of tenders.
In the case of the de facto nationalization of the Chiadzwa diamond fields, some media stories have alleged that it is more symptomatic of succession battles in the ruling party than it is predicated on any long term strategic planning around mining. Local weekly, the Zimbabwe Independent has also said some of its sources are alleging that the seizure of the diamond mines by the state may also be intended to prevent the Mnangagwa faction from building what it refers to as a ‘war chest’ in succession battles.
In the case of the Netone scandal, there is inference of factional battles or protection from the now publicised/leaked social media (whatsapp) messages between a ruling party linked businessman, Agrippa Masiyakurima and the minister in charge of telecommunications, Supa Mandiwanzira. Both do confirm the fact of their communications between each other and refer to ‘political backers’ being behind either of their motivations and responses.
What is most telling in the two examples I have cited is that there is a new pattern to revelations or allegations of corruption within government or state owned enterprises. Within the context of the current succession battles, there is a new trend at politicized attempts at vague whistle-blowing that often begins as rumour and political rally conjecture. It is posited more as a threat to some sort of harsh action particularly targeting senior political godfathers/mothers but in the end, after a specific phase, it all withers away, once again.
So this is an accusation and counter accusation framework that is currently in ‘factional operation’ at the moment . It is characterized more by the threats to expose corruption by one faction in the ruling party’s succession battle to the extent that it affects either’s capacity to access state resources in relation to campaign resourcing or capacity building.
And for now it is the ‘softer targets’ that are in vogue. The loyal and youngish businessmen who have probably relied on their party affiliation or proximity to power to make significant amounts of money. And they are probably the first in being the worst affected where and when state owned enterprises, cabinet ministers are affected. Those affiliated to former vice president Joice Mujuru have already attested to this reality. Even if they were only part of the informal sector and not necessarily involved in the larger and more lucrative state tenders in other fields.
It is for this reason that the threats and actual whistle-blowing about the shenanigans that may or may not be going on in government or elsewhere at the moment remains largely instrumental than it would be considered part of a democratic and principled stand against corruption. It is all part of the politics of factions within the context of succession and attempts to discredit individual members of either camps to both the current president as well as in relation to the public. This sadly will not and does not stamp out the culture of corruption that affects our society. Instead it simply gives the impression that in these factional battles and allegations of corruption, ‘to the victor go the spoils’.
*Takura Zhangazha writes here in his personal capacity (takura-zhangazha.blogspot.com)