CAVEAT: A person is innocent until proven guilty.
Past misdeeds – some of them alleged, but others openly and boastfully admitted as inspired by English folklore hero Robin Hood who robbed the rich to help the poor — finally caught up with Higher Education minister Jonathan Moyo this week.
echoes: CONWAY TUTANI
With the mounting evidence against him, he became more and more reckless and ridiculous in his desperate bid to clear himself, leaving neutrals wondering if he had completely lost his senses.
The spin doctor in him tried to deflect — and failed — the strong accusations against him on tribalism — the same way the regime conveniently blames everything — including corruption — on sanctions. It’s rare that people can stoop that low. It has been quite a spectacle. It’s only in Zimbabwe where you have an “honourable” minister posting on social media: “Nonsense! You are an idiot!”
As Moyo’s position became more and more untenable, it finally dawned on him this week that he had no choice, but to hand himself over to the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (Zacc) to save himself the ignominy of being handcuffed in public and bundled into an open truck under heavily-armed police for everyone to see and marvel, as the Zanu PF regime crudely and cruelly subjects those opposed to it. Moyo should be grateful for the system’s selectiveness – from which he has benefited immensely – for his “smart” and “civilised” arrest which saw him released into the “custody” of his lawyer despite the seriousness of the charges he is facing instead of spending the night in filthy, overcrowded police holding cells with faeces and urine overflowing from the toilets which are flushed from outside.
Moyo is now being charged with abusing his position as the responsible minister to dishonestly or unfairly take (read “steal”) $400 000 belonging to the Zimbabwe Manpower Development Fund (Zimdef) for his own use.
Prior to his arrest, Moyo had, for weeks, been on the offensive, accusing Zacc of being used and abused by his political enemies to target him.
- Chamisa under fire over US$120K donation
- Mavhunga puts DeMbare into Chibuku quarterfinals
- Pension funds bet on Cabora Bassa oilfields
- Councils defy govt fire tender directive
No one can deny that Moyo has many political foes because he seems to delight in creating enemies. Could there be underlying psychological issues? Moyo is not only an attention-seeker, but he seems to thrive in stirring negative attention.
Some children are disruptive because of the attention their disruption receives. In their warped minds, they think it’s funny to win the, if it may be called that, motormouth contest of the day. And some individuals carry this disruptiveness into adulthood.
It’s called attention deficit disorder, and it’s characterised by excessive activity (remember when Moyo said he was on the computer non-stop for 18 solid hours), and difficulty controlling behaviour that is not appropriate for one’s age (the same seen in Moyo’s outrageous, indecent, childish utterances unbecoming of a professor). I digress.
But there is no doubt that Zanu PF has established a culture of corruption. What’s been happening at Zimdef isn’t a one-time error in judgment — it’s only a microcosm. Everywhere you look — every ministry, Zesa, Zinara, Air Zimbabwe — the rot has set in. It has been years of lying and of manipulating other people for personal glory and for fattening Moyo and other ministers’ already bulging pockets. They are now thoroughly credited. What Zanu PF is doing amounts to receiving stolen property — and knowingly or wilfully, to aggravate it. That is what 36 years of unbroken rule does to any country.
That is why Moyo and his ilk are still firmly ensconced in office despite strong and longstanding accusations of corruption. That is why Moyo was sitting — somehow smugly — next to President Robert Mugabe during the graduation ceremony at Great Zimbabwe University last week when the President should have held his nose and distanced himself from the smelly corruption rot surrounding the minister.
We are not talking about mere suspicion, but Moyo’s own self-incriminating utterances admitting his “Robbing Hood” methods. In another country, Moyo would be deemed damaged goods. Damaged goods refers to someone who has ruined their career because of at least one exposed mistake that has permanently changed their reputation and/or credibility. Well, Moyo is more than qualified to be damaged goods because he has made much more than one exposed mistake and must not be anywhere near the Cabinet room.
But going by previous such cases involving top government officials that fizzled out, Moyo is likely to be let off the hook. You can get away with anything — including murder as the known killers of MDC activists Talent Mabika and Tichaona Chiminya in 2000 can testify — as long as you profess loyalty. Is it the insecurity in Mugabe that makes him criminalise political differences and decriminalise corruption as long as the culprit is perceived as loyal to him? Moyo, Energy minister Samuel Undenge, Local Government minister Saviour Kasukuwere — the list is long — have proved to be more trouble than they are worth, but Mugabe still insists on keeping them.
And Mugabe might as well have given the game away through his very much qualified condemnation of corruption with the rider giving legal advice to — of all people — these economic saboteurs to hire defence lawyers and somehow blaming the media for doing its job of exposing such characters. It showed his barely subtle reluctance to let the law take its course, and implicit warning to the media — in particular the State-run section, which he controls — to lay off or else. What Mugabe said is most disappointing, but not surprising. All he is interested in is to place people in a position of eternal gratitude for benefiting from his “generosity” in getting farms, mines, tenders etc, and being let off when they have committed crimes where he can call back the favours he would have extended to them.
But fellow Zimbabweans, when the Moyo types — protected by the rotten system — take the low road by robbing us through cutting corners and influence-peddling, it’s for us to take the high road — to choose the most honest, ethical course or method in the face of this abuse.
Let’s not choose to be shady or dishonest in a situation where such action would give us an advantage over someone else, even if we could get away with it — like the Moyo types. Let’s always do the right thing.
Yes, it’s not easy and we might be tempted to join this mad criminal rush of looting, but if we all copy this crookery and thievery, will there still be any Zimbabwe to talk about? No.
Let’s make it loud and clear to low-roaders like Moyo that being honest and ethical does not make us weak and stupid by unrelentingly pursuing and exposing criminals masquerading as leaders through legal channels along with sustained political confrontation. Let’s call time on the Moyos of this world.
It can be done because angry Zimbabweans across the political divide are beginning to spontaneously coalesce against this rape of the nation.
Let’s take the high road to prosperity!
Conway Nkumbuzo Tutani is a Harare-based columnist. Email: email@example.com