BY NQOBANI NDLOVU
FORMER War Veterans minister Tshinga Dube has slammed the suspension and silencing of Zanu PF youth leaders who spoke out against graft, adding that the named cartels should prove their innocence and source of wealth.
Zanu PF suspended youth secretary Pupurai Togarepi, his deputy Lewis Matutu and national political commissar Godfrey Tsenengamu after they accused businessmen Kudakwashe Tagwirei, Billy Rautenbach and Tafadzwa Musarara of running cartels that were bleeding the economy.
Speaking to journalists after delivering a public lecture at the Solusi University campus in Bulawayo on Sunday, Dube said he was of the opinion that suspending the youth leaders was not the answer without the named cartel leaders proving their innocence.
“Personally, I was a bit disappointed that there is still some restriction on what people can say. I always have respect for young people who do something about what they think is not right. We should not hinder them from free thought,” Dube said.
“These people, who have been said to be cartels, are there. Let them defend themselves. Let them say we are not cartels. Let them say we have not caused any hardships on the Zimbabwean economy.
“Let them explain that they acquired their wealth the right way. Then those young men, who have accused them, should also come forward and prove their allegations. I think that will be the right way.”
The naming of the cartel leaders by the youth leaders came as no surprise as a number of Zanu PF officials and businesspersons with links to the ruling party have been accused of graft before but there has been little appetite for arrest and prosecution — even during the days of the late former President Robert Mugabe.
Where there have been arrests, issues of factionalism — not new in the ruling party — have come up.
“I am expressing my personal opinion not that of the party which I belong to. The so-called cartels should be given a chance to cleanse themselves and prove they are not as bad as the youths alleged. They must explain the source of their wealth,” Dube said.