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Chiadzwagate new challenge for Mugabe

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Six years ago, President Robert Mugabe put together what he called a “War Cabinet” whose mandate he said was to deal with the then rampant white-collar crime that saw company executives and bankers flee the country or jailed.

Members of that “War Cabinet” included such amadoda sibili, as Mugabe dubbed them, like Ignatius Chombo, Obert Mpofu, and others.

Their brief was to root out corruption and dishonesty, to probe and punish plunderers of our economy.

The President, embarrassed and exasperated by wanton thieving of public funds, had taken a hard public stance against graft and greed.

The nation believed he had found the panacea to Zimbabwe’s moral cancer and that lessons would be learnt from the real big heads that everyone expected would roll.

That did not happen.

Yes, the so-called masters of externalisation and money laundering were either locked up or hounded out of the country, but the big fish, heads rotten to the core, simply swam deeper under water.

The fatwa on corruption failed to yield desired results.

After a year of his rather boastful announcement of the Cabinet of War, it was none other than President Mugabe himself who came out to tell the nation that his amadoda sibili had turned out to be one of “the worst Cabinets I have ever had”.

Mugabe has several more times since then publicly declared war against “daylight robbery” in high places but, save for the 1989 press-induced Sandura purge of the Willowgate thieves, the President has ever been playing the toothless dog.

He may have to set up another commission to deal with what is fast unravelling as “Chiadzwagate”, which is threatening to swallow whole, some of the fat, big fish, rotten heads and all.

From documents that have exposed the goings on in the dark Chiadzwa dealings, it appears it had to take President Mugabe’s individual genius to uncover what had apparently taken his ministers forever to find.

He asked Lovemore Kurotwi, deputy chairman of Canadile Miners, three simple questions which any due diligence exercise should not have been able to overlook.

And, suddenly, Obert Mpofu’s eyes opened.

In no time, Kurotwi was behind bars.

But that was not before he told President Mugabe, in Mpofu’s presence, that his “ever obedient son” had demanded to have his hands greased in order to facilitate the smooth running of Canadile operations in Chiadzwa!

Latest developments in Zimbabwe’s diamond industry, and at Chiadzwa in particular, involving the government-owned Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation and the Mines ministry clearly vindicate the President’s assertions that the demise of our economy is largely the responsibility of some corrupt individuals who have been blood-sucking our country while we slept.

There cannot be a wiser move by the President to win back the hearts of long-suffering civil servants, who have based their hopes for better salaries on Chiadzwa diamonds, than being seen to have acted to clamp down on this latest rot.

Obviously, a lot of unscrupulous characters, including the least suspected and perhaps the most trusted, and obedient, have enriched themselves from midnight deals, oftentimes with the willing, if “unwitting”, assistance from government top brass and, or ruling party big guns.

Decisive action this time around will convince every patriotic Zimbabwean that the President and his impi of amadoda sibili has finally decided to rid our country of the leprosy that has crippled the economy and caused untold misery to the masses for many years.

And, no doubt, he will win the hearts of many.

This bold action will definitely bring back his party from the political cemetery and rebuild his personal image at home and abroad.

What is needed now is for President Mugabe and his indunas, especially the “regiment” commandeered by the old and unassuming Sydney Sekeramayi, to stand as firm and resolute as they did on the controversial land issue.

Questions though arise: will such an onslaught be targeted only at the unscrupulous corporate gold diggers and other youthful plunderers as has so far been apparent?

Is the political and government old guard, active and retired, going to be put under the microscope as well?

Are the hands of those tasked with the cleansing really squeaky clean?

Are we not going to see some sacred cows’ cupboards broken into and fossilised skeletons flung into the face of the public by vengeful victims of this fatwa?

Is the President prepared to deal with the likely backlash on his executioners and on himself?

One thing that is sure to happen is that whistles will blow, genuine and false, and heads will roll.

But, while we applaud the government clampdown on corruption, we abhor treacherous legislation that takes away our basic constitutional rights to freedom.

Section 121 of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act, an amendment of the Criminal Procedure and Evidence Act, put in place six years ago, ostensibly to effect the government anti-graft onslaught on economic saboteurs is, in reality, an assault on our liberties as Zimbabweans.

The regulations make it quite legal for the police to incarcerate any suspect for unreasonably long periods of time.

Yes, government should go ahead and root out thieves and economic plunderers, but that cannot be accepted as an excuse to enforce unconstitutional and illogical regulations that effectively deprive citizens of their fundamental human rights, especially freedom.

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