HEADS have started rolling at the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ), with four top executives being suspended yesterday less than 24 hours after Finance ministry communications taskforce chairperson William “Acie Lumumba” Mutumanje implicated them as the brains behind the cash crisis in the country.
BY EVERSON MUSHAVA/RICHARD CHIDZA/OBEY MANAYITI
In a live Facebook recording on Sunday night, Mutumanje cited that the country was being held hostage by a cartel, including the RBZ quartet, which he said was enjoying a monopoly in the country’s fuel business and other corrupt deals.
Mutumanje was appointed to head the taskforce on Friday by Finance minister Mthuli Ncube.
But Information secretary Ndavaningi Mangwana said Ncube did not have a spokesperson and that the taskforce to promote the Transitional Stabilisation Programme was yet to the operationalised.
“That’s the correct position and the minister (Ncube) can confirm that,” Mangwana said. Ncube was not picking calls last night when NewsDay contacted him.
The former Zanu PF youth league member said RBZ director (bank supervision) Norman Mataruka, Azvinandawa Saburi (director financial markets) Mirirai Chiremba (director financial intelligence) and head of security Gresham Muradzikwa, were behind crimes ranging from off-the-books bond notes to corrupt allocation of foreign currency.
Mutumanje’s disclosures jolted RBZ governor John Mangudya (pictured) to wield the axe on the four.
“The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (the Bank) wishes to advise members of the public that following allegations of impropriety levelled against senior officials of the bank,” Mangudya said in a statement yesterday.
“… the bank has found it necessary, for the sake of transparency and good corporate governance, that the allegations be followed through and investigated in line with the bank’s employment code of conduct.
“Consequently, on October 22, 2018 (yesterday), the bank suspended the quartet from employment for an indefinite period to pave way for the investigations. Once the investigations have been
concluded, the public shall be advised of the outcome and the appropriate corrective action to be taken as dictated by the outcome of the investigations.”
But well-placed sourced told NewsDay that Mangudya, who had been accused of protecting the top managers, buckled to pressure and suspended them to save his job.
“Mangudya only had two options, to fire them or get fired together with them, so he chose the first option and the four are suspended pending investigations,” a well-placed government official disclosed.
Early yesterday morning, unconfirmed reports claimed the outspoken Mutumanje had been fired.
But Mutumanje denied the reports and promised to release more information which he said would expose the leader of the cartel only identified as “Queen Bee”.
“I am not fired and I promise to come back again, and slowly I will unmask the Queen Bee who has caused much suffering to Zimbabweans,” he said.
The suspended managers were said to be part of a cartel of senior central bank officials working with Queen Bee.
In the video, which he said was issued in his personal capacity, Mutumanje labelled the shadowy character as the “single biggest threat to Zimbabwe’s national security” that President Emmerson Mnangagwa has to deal with.
The currency parallel market spiralled out of control after the October 2 announcement of a new monetary regime that included a 2% transactional tax, but Mutumanje claimed there was more to the chaos.
“This country is under State capture and there is incredible corruption. It goes high up,” he said.
“Somebody is calling the shots. The RBZ does not belong to John Mangudya. Mangudya is trying his best, but my God, the directors at the RBZ are the most corrupt human beings I have ever met.”
Mutumanje claimed bond notes were being printed in Yugoslavia and Serbia and that Muradzikwa was the only person with access to them.
“This guy has more money in his bank account than all of his bosses. He singlehandedly moves with bond notes. You can fact check this. Ask for the flight manifest for the transportation of the bond notes. You will realise that it stops either in Mozambique and South Africa where it offloads for an hour. We have money coming through the borders in cars,” he said, adding this money would then be off-loaded onto the black market. “There is a guy whose name is Saburi. It’s literally a cartel running the RBZ and I don’t believe Mangudya is part of this. There is another guy called Mataruka. Their employment contracts do not allow them to sit on any private company boards. They sit on the board of Aurex (State gold buyer) which buys and processes gold. This gold is processed into rings and other items which they then export.”
Mnangagwa will have to break the “cartel” if his much-vaunted claim to fight corruption is to come to fruition.
“If they don’t fire Ncube, he will get rid of Queen Bee. President Mnangagwa is trying to clean it up,” he said.
“Queen Bee has bought cars for the ‘chefs’ guys at Zanu PF because she is struggling to capture Mnangagwa. So she decides to capture everyone else.”
Zanu PF recently took delivery of top-of-the-range cars worth $5 million reportedly donated by a local tycoon “with interests in the energy sector”.
Mutumanje said senior Zanu PF officials with political clout were behind the cartel’s survival, adding that the officials were linked to “remnants” of former Central Intelligence Organisation director-general Happyton Bonyongwe, his wife Willia, who is the former Zimra board chairperson and an unnamed top executive at the National Oil Company of Zimbabwe.
The developments came after the government had indicated it was soon going to act on “saboteurs” behind the soaring foreign currency black market rates. On Friday last week, Mnangagwa met with Justice minister Ziyambi Ziyambi to map the way forward and tasked the Attorney-General’s Office, RBZ, ministries of Finance and Justice to brainstorm over the matter.
This was after raids and threats to nab the cash barons had not stemmed the tide on the black market.
Yesterday morning, Ziyambi told NewsDay they were treating the matter as very urgent.
“I met him (Mnangagwa) on Friday and that is when we discussed it and we started working on that on Friday and very soon we should be seeing that happening because it’s urgent,” he said.
At the inception of bond notes, the government gave its full backing on a 1:1 ratio with the US dollar and has refused to accept the discrepancy with that ratio, forcing market forces to peg it at exorbitant rates that are beyond the reach of many.