THE Zanu PF commissariat and youth league have called for a clean sweep of corrupt party and government bigwigs, saying all those implicated in corrupt activities should immediately be relieved of their positions because they were stalling President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s efforts to rebuild the country’s battered economy.
BY BLESSED MHLANGA
Newly-appointed party commissar Victor Matemadanda said the party should immediately recall all corrupt senior officials seconded to government because they were frustrating economic recovery efforts and soiling the image of Mnangagwa’s administration.
Matemadanda last night told NewsDay that his calls were not a smoking gun to push out foes.
“We are saying all those in government or party, who are being accused of corruption, must clear themselves first so that we restore trust and confidence in the eyes of the people and the party,” he said.
“There are some who appear to be using political clout or their government positions to avoid facing justice. We are saying they must excuse us, clear themselves and come back. Why would anyone fear being pushed out when they are innocent. I am not accusing anyone of corruption. I am saying if you have been accused, clear yourself, especially government officials, so that we don’t fall back into the rot that we saw in the old dispensation.”
Matemadanda also told the State media recently that leaders should not be involved in corrupt activities, adding that those implicated in corrupt activities, be it a politburo member or minister, should clear their names before the courts before taking public office.
For those in influential positions, they should resign and clear their names, he said.
“They should not wait for the President to nail them in public. They should not wait for the President to force them to resign, they should do the honourable (thing). Let them clear their names to gain confidence from the people.”
The call came as several top party officials, among them sitting Cabinet ministers, have been named in various shady deals.
Zanu PF deputy youth league secretary Lewis Matutu said the warning should be taken seriously.
“The Zanu PF youth league is fully behind the call by our commissar that senior leadership in Zanu PF and government, who were fingered in corruption, must clear their names or resign from their positions with immediate effect,” he said.
Although the youth leader said it was too early to name and shame, he said all those linked to corruption during or before the new dispensation should come clean.
“We are saying you have an obligation to explain yourself and clear your name. For those who are supposed to go to court, they should just go and stop using their political muscle or any influence to avoid facing justice,” he said.
Matutu, a close Mnangagwa ally, alleged that there were some “very senior” government officials who were dabbling in corruption, while hiding in high offices.
“It’s not just the senior officials in Zanu PF, but the majority are in government and there are very senior people in government. The names are coming, but we are giving them an opportunity to clear themselves, we must have a clear system that shows seriousness in fighting corruption,” he said.
The Zanu PF youth leader, appointed to a full-time party job by Mnangagwa and an influential member of the politburo, does not normally speak without consulting senior party leadership, including the President.
He, however, said the statements of the youth league did not need presidential validation.
“We do not need the President to tell us that corrupt people should resign or those accused should clear their names. They should do so or we will push them out. As to how that will be done, you will see when the time comes,” he said.
Opposition MDC leader Nelson Chamisa has always called on Mnangagwa to purge those close to him first if he is serious about fighting corruption.
Chamisa is also advocating for radical changes in the appointment of senior government officials, saying they needed parliamentary confirmation through public hearings to root out corrupt elements.
Some insiders in Zanu PF have said the calls for senior leadership to resign or be pushed out if they failed to clear their names over corruption allegations could be used to target political foes.
“It appears that there is a move to consolidate power and purge political foes ahead of the 2023 general elections,” a source said.
“The move was put in motion when Matemadanda replaced (Engelbert) Rugeje and the call by the youths is an effort to use allegations of corruption to push the others out.”
Factional fights and cracks were reportedly slowly emerging within Zanu PF, which appeared united after the ouster of its former strongman Robert Mugabe in November 2017.
Highly-placed sources said there was a group within the ruling party which was pushing for Vice-President Constantino Chiwenga to be the Zanu PF 2023 presidential candidate as pressure was mounting internally to make Mnangagwa rule for one term only.
The group, reportedly backed mostly by army remnants in the governing party, has, however, lost ground owing to Chiwenga’s reported ill-health.
Mnangagwa recently curiously retired influential army commanders from active service and deployed them out of the country as diplomats.
Sources said he followed the move by deploying his trusted ally and leader of an internal revolt against Mugabe, Matemadanda, to a key post in the party after pushing out Rugeje.
Matemadanda has denied the party was fractured and, instead, said it was stronger and united than ever.
Party spokesperson Simon Khaya Moyo said only Matemadanda and the youth league could comment on the statements.
“You will have to speak to the youth league and Matemadanda because I do not comment on quotations. I am also unaware of factions in the party,” he said.