Is Mnangagwa falling into the Mugabe trap?


“As we focus on recovering our economy, we must shed misbehaviours and acts of indiscipline which have characterised the past. Acts of corruption must stop forthwith.”

These were the words of President Emmerson Mnangagwa when he was sworn into office on 24 November 2017.

“Where these occur swift justice must be served to show each and all that crime and other acts of economic sabotage can only guarantee ruin to perpetrators. We have to aspire to be a clean nation, one sworn to high moral standards and deserved rewards,” he said.

“On these ideals, my administration declares full commitment, warning that grief awaits those who depart from the path of virtue and clean business.”

Seventeen months down the line, corruption still reigns in Zimbabwe. Several former cabinet ministers were arrested and brought before the courts but their cases have been collapsing one after another with former Energy Minister Samuel Undenge being convicted of a very minor offence involving very little money.

Mnangagwa is failing to curb corruption, the cancer that continues to destroy Zimbabwe. This has cost him the confidence of the people because they doubt whether he is in control of the country or is just a surrogate leader who is being dictated to by someone else. His failure to address the scourge of corruption has given the impression that the corrupt are more powerful than the President.

The current shortage of fuel is blamed on corruption rather than shortage of foreign currency.

The thriving black market is blamed on corruption as money is not getting to industry and commerce which needs it but to rent seekers with the right connections.

As they say, the fish rots from the head. Mnangagwa is therefore to blame. But if you talk to those in the private sector they tell you that the President is not corrupt, his lieutenants and relatives are. This was the same excuse used to keep former President Robert Mugabe in power.

The question that is never answered is how does a leader who is not corrupt get surrounded by corrupt people when the leader appoints his own lieutenants and has the power to fire anyone? How does a leader that is not corrupt tolerate corrupt children or relatives?

Zimbabwe will not move unless Mnangagwa clamps down on corruption because it is drawing out billions of dollars from a cash-starved economy.

Former Zimbabwe Revenue Authority boss Willia Bonyongwe said last year that Zimbabwe lost US$3.5 billion through corruption in 2017 alone. Worse still, she said she was powerless to deal with the corruption because the bulk of it was perpetrated by top politicians-cum-businesspeople and their surrogates, some government ministers, top civil servants and notable businesspeople connected to the ruling elite.

Eddie Cross, who is now one of the President’s advisors, said in 2017 that Zimbabwe had lost US$60 billion through corruption since independence.

Getting rid of corruption should therefore be a priority for Mnangagwa. We must take the President to task and not give excuses for him.

If he is not corrupt why is it difficult for him to get rid of his corrupt lieutenants and relatives? What hold do they have on him?


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Charles Rukuni
The Insider is a political and business bulletin about Zimbabwe, edited by Charles Rukuni. Founded in 1990, it was a printed 12-page subscription only newsletter until 2003 when Zimbabwe's hyper-inflation made it impossible to continue printing.


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