THE ruling Zanu PF party members have been giving Zimbabweans comic relief in the past few months, making the right noises about transparency and accountability in government and the economy, but questions will always linger about the seriousness of those making the damning allegations. Is it factional fights for supremacy or a fight about who controls what?
The party’s youth leaders Lewis Matutu and Godfrey Tsenengamu on Monday took some bizarre decision to attack what they called leaders of cartels in the economy, people accused of making Zimbabweans suffer because they want to create and maintain their political fortunes using their proximity to power.
Matutu and Tsenengamu had a list of names among them were the “usual suspects” Kuda Tagwireyi, Tafadzwa Musarara, Billy Rautenbach, central bank officials, police and the judiciary. It is noteworthy that this is not the first time the youth leaders have made such damning allegations against businesspersons or fellow party members.
Last year, the same youths labelled Zanu PF secretary of administration, Obert Mpofu, a corrupt leader, triggering a $10 million defamation suit that is still before the courts. And like the last time, the youths this time around followed the same script of holding a Press conference away from Zanu PF headquarters even when they have offices there.
Let us for a moment examine the names thrown into the limelight. Tagwireyi is a business mogul whose interests stretch from real estate, fuel supply and mining, among other things. He is a significant shareholder in Sakunda Holdings, a subsidiary of Trafigura, a company that has control in excess of 35% of the fuel market.
Tagwireyi has mining interests that include his recent acquisition of Freda Rebecca Mine and Bindura Nickel Corporation and a touted 30% stake as a partner in the Russian Darwendale Platinum project. He is the main benefactor of Command Agriculture that gobbled a staggering US$3 billion in the past agriculture season, but the country is reeling from massive food insecurity.
Tagwireyi has also featured prominently in the ongoing Vice-President Constantino Chiwenga’s messy divorce at the High Court. It is revealed in court papers that Tagwireyi bought the former army general a Lexus Suv to monitor Command Agriculture and a Mercedes Benz salon car to ferry the VP’s children to school.
It is the same Tagwireyi who is a member of the elite presidential advisory council formed by President Emmerson Mnangagwa after he won the 2018 presidential elections, albeit in a controversial pattern. He has travelled with Mnangagwa to Eastern Europe and for good measure bought an infamous signed scarf at an auction for a staggering US$250 000.
Musarara is the chairman of the Grain Millers Association of Zimbabwe, an organisation at the centre of providing subsidised mealie-meal. He is not new to working with the regime. Musarara has twice failed to become a Member of Parliament for Mazowe, but was a prominent member of the Kimberley Process (KP) during Obert Mpofu’s tenure at the mining ministry. The KP certifies the sale of diamonds at the Anterwep Diamond market, Belgium.
Rautenbach is a shady character after he was deported from three African countries for tax evasion or illicit trading in minerals. He had some of his properties attached for evading tax in South Africa and Botswana. In the Democratic Republic of Congo, Rautenbach was deported by Laurent Kabila after some unsavoury acts at State-controlled mining firm Gecamines. Rautenbach was the only Zimbabwean not a politician or military officer of the seven blacklisted persons by the United Nations for plundering DRC diamonds.
Rautenbach leases more than 20 000 hectares of land from the Zimbabwean government, which he uses to produce sugarcane for ethanol production. His company, Green Fuels, has an exclusive agreement with government to be the only company that supplies ethanol used for the mandatory blending of petrol in the country. Rautenbach has a fleet of haulage trucks that operate in the Sadc region and will soon be expanding his sugarcane production as the government has given him a new lease at Nuanetsi Ranch.
Rautenbach, like Tagwireyi, has a close relationship with Mnangagwa since the infamous Tsholotsho Declaration in 2004. Rautenbach’s name featured prominently as one of Mnangagwa’s funders at the time when he sought to be the late former President Robert Mugabe’s number two.
Matutu and Tsenengamu are probably barking up the wrong tree. Zanu PF leadership is not about to be held accountable since it trashed the leadership code in the late 1980s. This was an internal party agreement that leaders had to declare their assets and were not permitted to engage in primitive accumulation of wealth like what has become the norm today.
Mnangagwa after the November 2017 coup made the right noises too about transparency and accountability and for a while most Zimbabweans thought we had reached the biblical Canaan. Mnangagwa threatened to relentlessly pursue forex externalisers and have Cabinet ministers declare their assets (of course any of the properties to be declared had to be above US$100 000). One can only wonder what Tsenengamu meant when he said: “If you go to Tagwireyi’s car sales, he has top of the range vehicles he brought under the Command Agriculture scheme. He has done this because leaders have allowed it. Our leaders must now choose whether they want to stand with Tagwireyi or the people.”
Will Mnangagwa “the listening President” come to the party and clampdown on corruption? Or this is another sideshow as Zanu PF internal fights are playing out for public sympathy and pretending that they are with the suffering masses? One thing for certain, Zanu PF will not lose its corruption spots like the leopard.
Paidamoyo Muzulu is a journalist and writes here in his personal capacity.