President Robert Mugabe went a notch higher in a desperate attempt to rebrand himself when he used a luncheon after the official opening of Parliament to launch a seemingly spirited campaign against corruption.
At the luncheon last week, Mugabe – who has presided over one of the most corrupt governments in Africa – began a rebranding campaign as a true statesman who has a strong position against ills such as graft, avarice and corruption.
Ironically, his 33-tenure in office is replete with the most obnoxious examples of corrupt practices that he did absolutely nothing about before he suddenly found his voice last week after three and half decades in office.
Let us get down to the facts.Some of Mugabe’s Cabinet Ministers, including a few he reappointed for the umpteenth time only last week, are on record as having stated that they were over 100 percent disabled as a ploy to loot the War Victims Compensation Fund.I do not want to get into the details of what was said by the now Police Commissioner-General in terms of his war injuries when he got his loot from the Fund, which Fund was one of the many feeding troughs the Zanu PF elite has enjoyed over the years.
This is the same Chihuri that Mugabe is now portraying as having been one of the innocent by-standers in the so-called diamond saga which is about to claim the latest scapegoat, Masimirembwa.
This is not to mention the Willowgate scandal. Despite having a so-called Leadership Code in place, Zanu PF chefs in the late 1980s abused a car loan facility and resold the vehicles for high profit. Mugabe never fired anyone for this vice, except one Maurice Nyagumbo who fired himself not only from government but also from this earth when he committed suicide in shame.
Are we now to believe that Mugabe has suddenly found his voice to speak on corruption that has been a major trait that has blighted his regime over the years? Is there a catch somewhere? Is he addressing legacy issues, so that history will at least say he did something about corruption, albeit in his twilight years?
But the sacrificial lamb, Masimirembwa, is a far much small player than the main characters we have known to be the big players in this corruption game. Zimbabweans know that top government officials became multiple farm owners after a supposedly successful land reform exercise meant to benefit the ordinary Zimbabwean, not to mention the number of farms Mugabe himself has personally acquired for his family.
We also still remember, by the way, the VIP Housing scheme and how it sucked in the first family, not to mention Obert Mpofu who Mugabe implied was an honest minister who was unaware of the many shenanigans surrounding the country’s diamonds, particularly in the Masimirembwa saga.
But this is the same Mpofu who, as Minister of Mines and with a monthly salary of about US$800, managed to buy a stake in a bank for around US$35 million.In a country with a leadership that is really serious about corruption, he would long have been investigated on how he managed to raise the millions with such a salary.
Tendai Biti, as Minister of Finance, and Morgan Tsvangirai, as the Prime Minister of Zimbabwe, have had meetings with the President and Mpofu himself over the non-remittance of billions of diamond revenue to Treasury. Nothing was done.
But now the President is suddenly serious about the issue of corruption in the diamond industry as if he has just heard it for the first time. We are talking here of three Cabinet Ministers belonging to Mugabe’s political party, three ministers he recently reappointed.
Saviour Kasukuwere, Nicholas Goche and Mpofu were protected by the police who prevented the Anti- Corruption Commission from searching the three Ministers’ offices. If the three had nothing to hide, they ought to have allowed the Commission to execute its Constitutional mandate and absolve them of any crime.
Now the President wants to tell us that his government, particularly his party to which the three Ministers belong, is now serious about dealing with graft. Give us a break!
The simple truth is that Mugabe cannot lecture us on corruption which has been a major affliction of his party in government over the years. If he is to catch all the culprits involved in stealing diamonds, will there still be a Cabinet left, let alone a party called Zanu PF?
But there is a world of difference between Robert Mugabe and one Morgan Tsvangirai, who fired an entire council for corruption in Chitungwiza. The councillors were protected by Ignatious Chimbo, the Zanu PF Minister of Local Government who allowed them to stay but they were no longer MDC members.
It is a simple tale of two different leaders, qualitatively. Believing that Zanu PF is serious about fighting corruption is like entrusting mosquitoes to lead the anti-malaria crusade.
So please, spare us the drama, Mr President!