GOVT UNDER FIRE OVER MPOFU MISSING $15 BILLION PARLY FIASCO
Nearly a month after receiving a dossier on former Mines and Mining Development minister Obert Mpofu’s purported corruption, the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (Zacc) is ducking and diving on the issue, bringing into question its commitment in tackling bigwigs who are part of the governing administration.
Last month, Core Mining and Minerals (Private) Limited director Lovemore Kurotwi wrote a stinging letter to the anti-graft body, demanding prompt investigations into the Home Affairs minister’s conduct when he was in charge of the Mines portfolio between 2009 and 2013.
Kurotwi alleges that Mpofu, who as Home Affairs minister is now in charge of the police, demanded a $10 million bribe from him to license Core Mining and Minerals to mine in the controversial Chiadzwa diamond fields.
In the letter, copied to President Emmerson Mnangagwa and Finance and Economic Development minister Patrick Chinamasa, Kurotwi pleaded with the commission to bring the 66-year-old politician to justice.
He wrote that Mpofu must be investigated “over known corruption which he committed but which now seems to be swept under the carpet either for reasons of ignorance of the said corruption by the relevant authorities or reasons of impunity or both”.
The Daily News which was the first to report on Kurotwi’s letter can report that Zacc is dithering on the matter, nearly a month after receiving the dossier.
While Zacc officials are tight-lipped about the report, insiders who spoke on condition of anonymity said the investigations were scuppered by a verbal directive from one of the commissioners (name supplied), who ordered his colleagues to be “politically savvy”, lest they would be labelled remnants of the Generation 40 (G40) faction.
G40 fought a bitter war against the rival Team Lacoste faction over former president Robert Mugabe’s succession.
The faction almost came close to enthroning Mugabe’s wife, Grace, as successor but was prevented from doing so by the army, through a soft military coup of November last year, which ousted the 94-year-old despot from power.
Ever since, several G40 aligned functionaries, among them Walter Mzembi, Samuel Undenge and Ignatius Chombo have been arrested by Zacc on a litany of graft charges and arraigned before the courts.
A number of G40 kingpins, among them former Higher and Tertiary Education minister Jonathan Moyo and Saviour Kasukuwere — who was head of the Local Government ministry — have also gone into self-imposed exile.
Insiders at Zacc told the Daily News that the named commissioner alleged the instruction was coming from a “high office” and applied to a number of senior individuals, among them Mpofu and Supa Mandiwanzira, the minister of Information Communication Technology.
Mandiwanzira was alleged to have been involved in corrupt deals at NetOne, the State-owned mobile cellular operator.
Former NetOne chief executive officer Reward Kangai has since written to Zacc, claiming Mandiwanzira engaged a South African firm for consultation services without going to tender in terms of the standard procedure.
He said he was shocked to receive an invoice for $4 million which he claimed neither he nor other board members knew about.
The purported “instruction” was reportedly heavily protested against by some commissioners, who are also accusing the named commissioner of compromising investigations by divulging some of the names of people under investigations before they are arrested.
For the past two weeks, attempts by the Daily News to check on progress on the matter drew blanks from Zacc.
This is despite the fact that the commission has previously been quick to respond to questions on other investigations on individuals not considered to be in good books with the current administration of President Emmerson Mnangagwa.
Zacc spokesperson Phyllis Chikundura did not respond to questions sent to her via e-mail nearly a fortnight ago pertaining to the issue, while the commission’s head of investigations, Goodson Nguni, was not reachable.
During a discussion forum organised by the Mass Public Opinion Institute on Thursday last week titled The New Government’s Corruption Fight Good Governance and Selective Application of the Law, Zacc secretary Silence Pondo was evasive on the matter.
Several participants questioned why Zacc was not taking action against Mpofu and Mandiwanzira, despite concerns raised by members of the public over the way they handled certain deals.
“From my analysis, there are so many concerns about … Mpofu and … Mandiwanzira. We have taken note of that as Zacc, thank you very much,” is all Pondo could say.
He also declined to respond to questions pertaining to former first lady Grace Mugabe’s degree, which has resulted in the arrest of University of Zimbabwe (UZ) vice chancellor Levi Nyagura. An investigation has also been launched against UZ lecturer and former Sociology department chairperson, Claude Mararike.
Asked if they were going to arrest Grace, considering she was the recipient of the degree, Pondo said, “What I know is that Zacc received a report about those we arrested and it’s under investigations. It’s a case which is under contestation; we cannot tell you now that we are going to arrest this and that (individual). It’s a case under investigation and some of the people have already appeared before the courts.”
In the Kurotwi case, the businessman said the background to the corruption was when Core Mining and Minerals was given a concession to mine diamonds at Chiadzwa.
He alleges that before the concession was given, “Mpofu asked me for a bribe of $10 million”.
Kurotwi had proceeded to take up the issue with then president, Mugabe, in Mpofu’s presence “in a meeting called by…Mugabe to understand what was construed as acrimony between myself and…Mpofu.”
“When I refused to give…Mpofu the $10 million bribe and after I reported to…Mugabe…Mpofu used his position of privilege to have me arrested on frivolous charges of fraud,” he alleged.
While Zacc continues to dither on the matter, Parliament is leaving no stone unturned in its search for truth.
Mpofu appeared before the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Mines and Energy last week, where he arrogantly refused to answer to questions posed by the committee chaired by Norton Constituency independent legislator, Temba Mliswa.
Mpofu said he was not going to answer any of the questions asked as long as Mliswa was chairing the committee.
He alleged the Norton Member of Parliament had once visited his house 600 kilometres away from Harare in the dead of the night to discuss issues pertaining to the same reasons he had been dragged before the committee.
“For as long as he is sitting in front of me, presiding over this issue, I will not cooperate. You are even refusing me a chance to say what he had come to do at my house. With respect to honourable members, I will never, never be presided over by … Mliswa for what has happened and you should allow me to express myself.
“I am not going to talk, I have submitted myself to you and I will not talk about this issue. You are trying to convince me, no matter what you say, I will never say anything, you don’t know me …,” he said.
The anti-graft body has, however, previously exonerated Mpofu and Mandiwanzira claiming there is no sufficient evidence to nail the duo.
Many claim that even though the Mnangagwa-led government is trying to fight corruption, its actions are insincere due to allegations of selectively applying the law and arresting only those that were linked to Zanu PF’s G40 faction, while leaving some alleged big criminals.