Ministers Mpofu, Mandiwanzira under fire as parly demands corruption investigations
The National Assembly has ratcheted up pressure on President Emmerson Mnangagwa, calling on him to take action against Cabinet ministers accused of improper conduct.
Led by Mabvuku Tafara Member of Parliament James Maridadi, the lawmakers were seething with anger on Wednesday over Mnangagwa’s inaction on some of his lieutenants who have been fingered in acts of corruption.
They specifically mentioned Home Affairs minister Obert Mpofu and Information Communication Technology (ICT) minister Supa Mandiwanzira, whom they said must be brought before the courts of law to clear their names.
The MPs are also demanding a full investigation on former police commissioner-general Augustine Chihuri, who retired from the force last month. Maridadi told legislators during a discussion on the national budget that the new administration may not be taken seriously if it fails to act on corrupt bigwigs in its midst.
He took great exception to the fact that despite superintending over the Mines ministry when $15 billion was alleged to have looted from the controversial Marange diamond fields, nothing has been done to bring Home Affairs minister Mpofu to justice.
“There is a problem of $15 billion that this country must deal with. We were told by the former president (Robert Mugabe), and I do not think he was wrong, that $15 billion — either in money or in diamonds — disappeared. The person who was in charge of Mines then was … Mpofu,” said Maridadi.
“The president cannot continue to be seen working with Mpofu who is now the minister of Home Affairs if he has not gone through due process, which clears him of that corruption.”
Norton legislator Temba Mliswa also weighed in saying the former Mines minister must explain how he acquired his wealth.
Mpofu is rumoured to be among the wealthiest individuals in Zimbabwe.
“I have nothing against the wealth of anybody especially the wealth of Mpofu because I would like to have the same wealth but I would like to ask him how he acquired it,” Mliswa queried.
Mugabe once made startling claims that his government lost a jaw-dropping $15 billion to alleged nefarious activities by some of the diamond mining firms operating in Marange.
Mliswa alleged that Mpofu’s businesses blossomed when he was Mines minister but went bellies up after he was re-assignment to another portfolio.
He gave the example of Mpofu’s Allied Bank, formerly the Zimbabwe Allied Banking Group, which has since collapsed.
“…where did he get the money from?” he asked.
“I am saying this, your Excellency, in your Cabinet, when you have a man like … Mpofu, the minister of Home Affairs, you have a problem.”
Mliswa also alleged that there was a plan by Cabinet to give Mpofu a $600 million sovereign guarantee under the previous administration of Mugabe, which it wanted Parliament to rubber-stamp.
He also alleged that some ministers were hiding behind Mugabe to shield themselves from their past misdeeds.
“We cannot have situations where ministers are hiding behind the former president because you are corrupt. You were protecting the former president because you were scared of going to jail because you had been stealing and (not) because you liked him. That is why you wanted him to be in power because you knew that you would end up in jail,” argued Mliswa.
Mliswa, who was arrested several times on various trumped up charges before he was set free by the courts, said those accused of corruption must not be afraid of clearing their names in the courts of law.
He also alleged that the Zimbabwe Anti Corruption Commission (Zacc) was corrupt and called for its overhaul.
“Why is it that we only arrest people when they are out of power? It means all of you here are committing crime but when you are out of power you will be arrested,” he said.
MDC proportional representative MP Thokozani Khupe weighed in, saying government was concentrating on arresting “small fish.”
“On corruption, charity begins at home. Let us not talk about what is happening these days, looking for small monies, arresting small fish; please give us a break. We want big fish to be investigated — the $15 billion — charity begins at home.
“It must begin in the Cabinet because most of the culprits are in the Cabinet. For diamonds, they are there; gold they are there. They must be investigated. We want that money. Like I said earlier on, this budget is a cake and this cake must be shared equitably among all the 13 million (Zimbabweans),” said Khupe.
Also hauled over the coals was ICT and Cyber Security minister Mandiwanzira whom Maridadi said must be arrested on corruption allegations.
This follows damning allegations by former NetOne chief executive officer Reward Kangai.
Kangai wrote to Mnangagwa on December 28, 2017 pleading with him to set up a commission of inquiry to unravel what he called the birth and growth of a cartel in the ICT sector in Zimbabwe.
“A former chief executive of a State institution has written a letter to His Excellency, the president and has outlined a litany of allegations of corruption. Supa Mandiwanzira has not gone through due process and yet we hear Zacc saying he has no case to answer. Zacc is not a court of law; Zacc are not the police. Mandiwanzira should be able to say to His Excellency, I see what is being said about me, let me go on sabbatical leave, let me excuse myself and subject myself to due processes and be cleared and then you can re-appoint me and I will work with you,” said Maridadi.
On Chihuri, Maridadi said the ex-police commissioner-general must account for the money he used to build a house that is “bigger than a hotel”.
“Minister here says come with the evidence — the house that was built by the commissioner-general of police, you know his salary, you know how much he earns, how (does) he affords to build a house which is bigger than Holiday Inn?
“That is the evidence. What more evidence do you want? If you see a 14-year-old girl pregnant and the father says my daughter was raped (does) the minister say bring the evidence? If she is pregnant, it means somebody had sex with her and made her pregnant. What more evidence do you want when pregnancy is there?” said Maridadi.