President Emmerson Mnangagwa is now distancing himself from his top ally Christopher Mutsvangwa amid warnings by the war veterans’ leader that he won’t be silenced after he spoke out against alleged state capture.
Mutsvangwa, who was instrumental in Mnangagwa’s rise that culminated in the ouster of former president Robert Mugabe in November last year, last week claimed Sakunda Holdings owner Kudakwashe Tagwirei was behind state capture.
However, Mnangagwa’s spokesperson George Charamba, in an exclusive interview with The Standard on Friday, referred to Mutsvangwa as the president’s ex-advisor.
He said the outspoken former War veterans minister was resorting to fake politics after failing to penetrate the fuel industry.
Charamba said Mutsvangwa must provide evidence that Tagwirei was behind “state capture” and that he was running a cartel in the fuel industry.
“That is where we differ with our colleagues. Go and provide evidence because culprits are not dealt with by headlines, but they are dealt with by handcuffs, and if he has got some information please can he help the system?” he said.
“It’s not that if you are fronting a rival planning to bring fuel, then you retreat in the political deck because you cannot stand the heat in the boardroom, no, that is not acceptable.”
Charamba said Mutsvangwa was not a whistleblower, but an interested party in the fight for control of the fuel industry in Zimbabwe.
“We have made this information available to you that you draw a line between bona fide whistleblowers and rivals who are trying to fall back on political clout to get the better of competition,” he said.
“We are saying to you the doors are open, the market is open so get in the market together with your people and compete with others just like any other person.
“You get blooded, we say sorry, and you win, we say hallelujah and not try to use fake politics.”
Mutsvangwa, who is said to have links with a South African-based fuel giant Mining, Oil and Gas Service (MOGS), last week insisted he had a three-year contract to be Mnangagwa’s advisor.
He said he still had an office and personal assistant, but had been away for a while because of health reasons.
“Those who say I am fired thought my appointment was tied to me being an MP, that is why they sponsored a rival candidate so that I lose hoping that I would be automatically fired from being an advisor,” he said in a recent interview. “They are sulking bitterly.”
Charamba said the former minister’s criticism of command agriculture sounded like former Higher and Tertiary Education minister Jonathan Moyo’s argument.
Moyo described the programme championed by Mnangagwa as “ugly culture”, saying it was being used to fleece the government.
“We don’t think the former advisor meant it, we don’t think so,” Charamba said when asked about Mutsvangwa’s criticism of the programme.
“Does he really want to share the same argument with (former minister) Jonathan Moyo?
“That is Jonathan Moyo’s argument and I don’t think he wants to because I know he doesn’t want to.”
Meanwhile, Mutsvangwa last night denied that he was a front for MOGS and charged that he won’t be silenced.
“I do not front for MOGS which came to my attention in 2015 from the Ministry of Defence department of business development.
“The (then) head of the unit, General Sibusiso B Moyo, and permanent secretary Martin Rushwaya asked me to lobby for the MOGS in Cabinet,” he said.
“I challenge anyone who has proof of my contractual links to MOGS to publish it. They should provide something beyond sulky assertions.”
Mutsvangwa said Mugabe’s ouster last year ushered in a new dispensation where there was freedom of expression and he would continue speaking his mind.
“I am Zimbabwean and a revolutionary before I am a politician, functionary or whatever.
“All other attributions are subordinate to my democratic rights. After all, November 2017 ushered in an open season of free discourse,” he said.
“The 2013 constitution allows and entrenches free thinking and unfettered open speech.
“My first obligation is to be a democrat. I fought for that side by side with many of my generation. There is no earthly price tag to freedom of speech.”
Mutsvangwa said as things stood, several companies among them Vitoil of Switzerland, ADNOC of Abu Dhabi, OTI of Oman, IPG of Kuwait and a “bevy” of other global hydrocarbon global players from Singapore, Beijing, Moscow and Johannesburg were in Harare to explore market opportunities in the country.
“My sole interest is to see the nation benefit from the lowest fuel price possible from these interested market players, a case which has not been obtained to date,” he said
“For the record, most, if not all, these companies have been to my office. I handled all the same way as MOGS under the banner Zimbabwe Is Open for Business. In Shona, kuvhunduka chati kwata hunge uine katuruke [he who has something to hide panics easily]. Otherwise those who have always hated me should go beyond banal accusations to adduced evidence.”
He refused to comment on Charamba’s claim that he was no longer Mnangagwa’s advisor.
“I will not comment on a matter of public office. Just that it is not an elected office, thus is beyond my purview,” he said.
— The standard