Home Affairs minister Obert Mpofu has said the new dispensation has zero tolerance for corruption, amid calls for him to quit over an allegation that he demanded a bribe of $10 million for a licence to mine in the verdant Chiadzwa diamond fields.
The scandal threatens to weaken President Emmerson Mnangagwa politically who has made fighting corruption a top priority as he faces a tough presidential and parliamentary general election for control of the 210-seat assembly.
Mpofu last Thursday squirmed under tough probe and intense questions before a parliamentary panel on diamond dealings during his time as Mines minister alleging the chairperson of the Mines and Energy committee Temba Mliswa had a vendetta against him.
A day earlier, Mpofu had told a reception ceremony for interim solution equipment under the National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ) recapitalisation and signing of framework agreement held in the City of Kings that the new Zimbabwe does not tolerate corruption.
“People should realise that things have changed,” Mpofu said.
“The time of insulting each other and corruption is over. Those people who have been practising corruption should realise that their time is over.
“We should now be talking of developing in our country,” he said amid inaudible interjections and laughter from the crowd.
Mnangagwa presided over the reception ceremony.
The government, with the help from the Diaspora Infrastructure Development Group and Transnet (DIDG-Transnet) money and expertise, wants to rebuild NRZ and restore some of the industry’s former glory.
The mothballed NRZ is taking delivery of 120 freight wagons, 14 locomotives and 24 coaches under a $400 million deal with South African logistics group Transnet.
This comes after negotiations between the NRZ and Transnet — which won the bid jointly with Diaspora Investment Group (DIDG), a group of Zimbabwean investors living abroad — were completed in December last year.
Modernising the railways, government hopes, will boost movement of people and goods and exports.
That would help support Zimbabwe’s economy, which has been plunged into crisis.
Transport minister Joram Gumbo has said the initial negotiations with DIDG-Transnet had allowed for provision of part of the needed locomotives, wagons and passenger coaches which will immediately generate revenue for NRZ.