BY VENERANDA LANGA
PRESIDENT Emmerson Mnangagwa yesterday came face-to-face with an elderly woman who interrogated him over the anguish of pensioners who sleep at bank queues only to get 50 cent coins while crisp new notes are channelled to the black market.
Mnangagwa was quizzed by citizens on issues of corruption in the country at the no-holds-barred event organised by the African Parliamentarians Network against Corruption (APNAC) in conjunction with the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (Zacc), and Transparency International-Zimbabwe to commemorate the international Anti-Corruption Day Symposium under the theme Taking Stock of the Anti-Corruption Agenda in Zimbabwe.
Different panellists asked Mnangagwa to explain government policy on corruption in the banking, mining, the public and private sectors and the transport sector, among others.
Sixty-year-old Barbara Zamba, from Gokwe, who was one of the panellists, confronted Mnangagwa over the suffering of the Zimbabwean public at banks.
“I am a widow and I sleep at bank queues looking for money, and if I get that money, it will be only $60 in 50 cent coins, which are rejected by kombis and shops, and Mr President, can you explain why banks are giving people money which is not accepted for transactions,” Zamba said.
“We are also charged a premium when transacting on EcoCash, and there is a three-tier pricing system in the country which we view as corruption.”
Mnangagwa said all the bank queues and suffering of Zimbabweans were caused by sanctions.
“I am a listening President and you are saying you are a pensioner and you queue long hours or sleep at bank queues and yet you worked for that money. What I can say to you is that the country has a long history. After the liberation struggle, we then took our land and redistributed it to the people, but the whites then imposed economic sanctions upon us,” he said.
“If a country is to succeed, it needs to be backed by international banks like the World Bank to get lines of credit, but because of sanctions, people are suffering in Zimbabwe and it resulted in hyperinflation. We then decided to introduce our own currency. We have been surviving through our own hard work and yet all neighbouring countries have been getting lines of credit.”
Continued Mnangagwa: “The issue of failure to get money at banks is because we did not have much money in circulation. However, pensioners used to get $100 per month, but my government increased that to $800. As we go towards Christmas, the long queues at banks will be disappearing. I called the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe governor John Mangudya and told him about it and he said they used to issue $10 million to $20 million, but from Tuesday, next week they will be releasing $30 million to increase money supply.”
He said they were not going back on coins, but would also introduce $10 notes and $20 notes.
Child MP Vanessa Chivizhe said it was disheartening that young people were failing to get jobs due to nepotism and the comatose economy, which was sentencing them to poverty.
Child Speaker Christopher Mutasa told Mnangagwa that the country had policies to deal with corruption, but they were not being implemented and as youths, they demand strategic plans to solve the country’s problems.
APNAC chairperson Priscilla Misihairabwi-Mushonga said while Mnangagwa had appointed a new Zacc
board, there was need to remove the old Zacc staff so that the anti-corruption body is more effective.
Panellists told Mnangagwa that due to bribe-seeking tendencies at the Registrar-General’s department, some children are failing to acquire identity documents and that courts were releasing bigwigs implicated in corruption cases.
TI-Z programmes manager Farai Mutondoro said corruption had pervaded the extractive sector in terms of non-disclosure of contracts, bribes in mining contracts and machete wars affecting the gold sector.
Mnangagwa said to deal with unemployment, graduates should seek jobs in the diaspora.
“If you go to different countries in the world, you will find Zimbabweans at the top of global companies because we have the best education. Better be unemployed, but be educated because you can go outside the country and get employment, but what is critical is you must create jobs in this country.”
On corruption in mining, he said when he was in Belarus, he was told by businessmen there that they were buying US$60 million worth of gold from the black market trade in Zimbabwe, which he said should be going through Fidelity Printers and Refiners.