President Emmerson Mnangagwa, blew his gasket on Wednesday and put his ministers on notice, after he received damaging reports that some of them were demanding bribes from investors to facilitate meetings with him and deputy president Constantino Chiwenga.
So rampant was the corruption by his lieutenants that Mnangagwa told stunned Zanu PF bigwigs during the party’s central committee meeting in Harare that in one of the more egregious cases, a Cabinet minister had demanded a whopping R5 million bribe from a foreign investor to arrange a meeting with him.
An insider who spoke to the Daily News yesterday said Mnangagwa was “fed up” with claims of corruption involving senior government and Zanu PF officials — and was determined to “deal decisively” with all those caught on the wrong side of the law.
The allegations of sleaze involving bigwigs are not new. In 2012, ousted former president Robert Mugabe also told Zanu PF delegates at the party’s conference in Gweru that two Cabinet ministers had demanded US$10 million from South African investors.
Addressing the central committee on Wednesday, ahead of this year’s Zanu PF conference in Esigodini — which kicked off in earnest yesterday — Mnangagwa told mortified party heavyweights that some of his ministers were involved in serious corruption despite his efforts to curb the scourge.
“They say before I take you to the president pay up. One person told me that he was charged R5 million to be able to see me. He was told that three quarters would go to the president while the other quarter is for the fixer.
“So corruption, corruption, corruption … down with corruption. Being asked to pay to see Vice President Chiwenga or Defence minister (Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri) … we do not tolerate that,” he fumed.
“Under the new dispensation, we will not tolerate corruption. If there are some amongst us who are corrupt, they should immediately discard that practice because you will not survive in the party if you are corrupt,” he added.
Mnangagwa’s shocking revelations come at a time when his government has stepped up its anti-corruption crusade — which his critics, however, say is currently targeting only small fish, as well as his rivals from the vanquished Generation 40 (G40) faction.
The G40 faction was involved in a ferocious tussle with Mnangagwa and his backers during Zanu PF’s deadly factional, tribal and succession wars — which ended last November following the military intervention which ousted Mugabe from power.
Mugabe’s 2012 rant over graft came after former South African president Thabo Mbeki had provided him with evidence that showed that two Cabinet ministers had demanded a US$10 million bribe to facilitate a US$1 billion investment by African National Congress (ANC)-linked investors.
The two ministers, just like in the current R5 million bribery case, told the investors that Mugabe was to receive half of the bribe.
“I was getting complaints from outside. Former South African president Thabo Mbeki was saying some of their people in the ANC wanted to come intending to do business and this is what they have been told … ‘If you want to do this business, you bring US$5 million and from that US$5 million we take US$1 million that we will take to the minister to give to the president’”, Mugabe said then.
“If I get information stating that so and so minister is doing this, he (that minister) goes. Unfortunately, sometimes complainants do not want to identify the ministers fearing persecution, but that is happening in the ministries,” he added.
However, Mugabe — whose 37-year iron-fisted rule was stunningly ended by last November’s military intervention — did not prosecute a single case involving some of his ministers, despite regularly promising to act on corruption.
Meanwhile, Mnangagwa also took a swipe at senior Zanu PF officials on Wednesday, accusing them of promoting factionalism in the former liberation movement.
“We might have problems in the party, but we do not want gossiping and backbiting. If anyone has any queries or any concerns they should bring those up for discussion with others and not do it in a clandestine manner.
“We should all work to be remembered for the good work we would have done for the party. So, we must be honest leaders, hardworking leaders and servant leaders.
“The most important is loyalty to the party and unity among us, hard work and harmony towards common goals,” Mnangagwa said.
Zanu PF is meeting at Esigodini at a time that the party’s notorious succession demons have resurfaced, with its senior officials locking horns over who should take over from him — a few months after the 76-year-old strongman won a hotly-disputed five-year mandate from Zimbabweans to lead the country.
The fresh fissures in the former liberation movement come as Mnangagwa has recently called his restless lieutenants to order, insisting that they should focus on unity and rebuilding the country’s wobbly economy — rather than be fixated on politics, as they tend to do.
The new party cracks also come as Zanu PF has experienced a number of factional, tribal and succession brawls over the past few years — including a mini-split following its acrimonious 2014 congress, as well as the chilling poisoning of Mnangagwa by his internal rivals during a youth interface rally in Gwanda last year.
During this difficult period, Mugabe had — until last November’s military intervention ended his ruinous rule — studiously refused to name his successor, amid claims that he was preparing his erratic wife Grace to succeed him.
Mugabe eventually fell from power when the country’s increasingly disaffected military launched Operation Restore Legacy, which saw him being put under house arrest — before the nonagenarian resigned dramatically moments before Parliament started damaging impeachment proceedings against him.