By Tawanda Majoni
Where just about everything is going nowhere very fast — as is the case in Zimbabwe — even a badly scripted drama series is not a bad idea.
There was that time when we were kept glued to the screen as VicePresident Constantino Chiwenga and his estranged wife, Marry Mubaiwa, punched and clawed in public. As that was slipping into a yawn, some people pulled out a new one. Two boys, Lewis Matutu and Godfrey Tsenengamu, were hired to diss Kuda Tagwirei, Billy Rautenbach and Tafadzwa Musarara.
The three businessmen, according to the two former Zanu PF youth leaders, but as we have been hearing for years, are corrupt monopolists. A current term for that is “cartelists”. Billy, the youths said, is manipulating the blended fuel business, and almost all the oil into the country is passing through Tagwirei’s bedroom, while Musarara is playing funny games with grain imports and distribution.
We can’t let these greedy bastards continue bleeding us like that, the two youths concluded at two separate press conferences just under two weeks ago. It is said they are part of the Queen Bee syndicate that has captured politicians and the State.
The Zanu PF politburo wasted no time, sat and suspended Matutu and Tsenengamu, together with their boss, Pupurai Togarepi, for talking like they did. But just in case the plot might die too soon, Patrick Chinamasa, the party secretary for administration, gave an interview to The Herald last week. In trying to justify the action taken against the three, Chinamasa — typical of him and his cohorts — fibbed like his life would always depend on it.
Here is a summary of the lies. One, it’s never been Zanu PF policy to name and shame corrupt people in public. Well, he said it in quite a roundabout way, but that’s what he was saying. Two. naming and shaming other people was also bad because it was likely to scare those people and force them to flee into exile and leave the country without anyone to run business and employ people.
Three, naming and shaming corrupt people like what the small boys did was also going to discourage foreign investors.
Then, four, the two boys must not have named and shamed the three “perceived successful businessmen” in public but taken their case to the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission, the police and the prosecutor general, but didn’t do that.
Well, it’s not clear what it is about Chinamasa that makes him keep bouncing back in Zanu PF, but maybe it’s because the circus can’t be a circus without a consistent clown. Remember those many years ago, after the Tsholotsho Declaration, when Chinamasa wept like a baby before ex-president Robert Mugabe for participating in a plot to grab power from the almighty leader. He didn’t mind what his wife and kids were going to think about a grown man like that growling and grovelling before another man. Then, in 2018, he got busy commissioning big rubbish bins to win votes, when he was not lying about how good bond notes were. Fortunately, he lost his parliamentary seat and couldn’t make it back into Cabinet.
Back to Chinamasa’s Zanu PF lies. It’s clearly not true that Zanu PF doesn’t have a naming and shaming policy. Wind back to 2017. Remember the military and the Lacoste faction justified the coup against Mugabe on the basis that they were targeting the criminals surrounding the then president. They identified these “criminals”, inter alia, as Jonathan Moyo, Saviour Kasukuwere, Patrick Zhuwao, Ignatius Chombo and Shadreck Mashayamombe.
They even took out heavy machine guns and blew up some of these named and shamed corrupt people’s residences.
Don’t say that was the work of the army and the army is not Zanu PF. The military is the fourth, and probably the consistently most useful wing of the ruling party. Call it the commissariat if you want. It strategises for the party or, as it were, a faction of the party. It mobilises resources, helps fix election results, cows the opposition and makes the kings in Zanu PF. That’s why, after taking out the tanks in 2017 and the coup was done, it got involved in choosing a new party leadership in which its former commander, Chiwenga, was made the first second secretary, whatever that says. That’s why quite a number of the generals were conscripted into the government after November 2017.
Put that aside and fast-forward to 2019. Matutu and other youths named and shamed a whole range of powerful Zanu PF members and their proxies in business as well as public entities, as corrupt. This they did direct from the Zanu PF headquarters. It’s not clear where Chinamasa was then, but no one from Zanu PF came out to tell people that it wasn’t the party’s policy to name and shame individuals in public.
Why now, then, are we being told that Zanu PF is not in the habit of naming and shaming people? The answer can be found here. The 2019 list authored by the youth league excluded two important names. That’s Rautenbach and Tagwirei. It didn’t matter as long as the list didn’t include those two. So, Zanu PF had a name and shame policy for as long as it didn’t include these two omnipotent individuals. The youths touched a raw nerve when they revised their list and involved the two. You will also remember that, last year, questions were asked why the youths had excluded Tagwirei, but the youths ducked the question.
So, forget Chinamasa’s gook about having no naming and shaming policy. What he was saying last week is that Zanu PF musn’t name and shame corrupt people who matter to very important people. If you do that, your fingers get burnt. And it’s not as though the two naughty boys didn’t know that. Their sponsors had warned them about what would happen to them the moment they started yapping about Rautenbach and Tagwirei. For the record, Tagwirei is that bloke who donated top-of-the-range cars to Chiwenga at a date yet to be established. And rumourmongers have in the past said Chiwenga has interests in Sakunda. If that were true, it would mean Chiwenga has interests in Zimbabwe’s foreign currency black market where Sakunda seems to be the big don. Its bank accounts were frozen by RBZ over this last year.
So, whoever sent Tsenengamu and Matutu seems to hate Chiwenga with a passion. That could be big business and its proxies with interests in the fuel sector.
That could also be Chiwenga’s political foes in the party. Or both.
It gets particularly bizarre when Chinamasa claims that naming and shaming corrupt people drives away direct foreign investment. For him, and a part of Zanu PF, exposing the corrupt habits of Rautenbach and Tagwirei will discourage outside investors. That’s self-defeating nonsense. One of the reasons why Zimbabwe is failing to attract meaningful investment is the pervasiveness of corruption. No sane investor would want to come into country where tenders are fixed out of habit, contracts can be cancelled any time for any or no reason, some commercial sectors are no-go areas, and people are punished for talking against corruption.
And it’s also awkward for him to say naming and shaming people will force those hoodlums flee the country. It was never going to worry us here, because corrupt people don’t bring any value to us. It does the opposite, taking away whatever little value was left. But why would Chinamasa and Zanu PF want to keep corrupt people? Because, as the cliché goes, corruption is to Zanu PF what water is to fish. That party quakes at the prospect of corrupt people running into exile because nothing would be left of Zanu PF in the short term.
*Tawanda Majoni is the Information for Development Trust (IDT) national coordinator.