Go back to the drawing board

The Statutory Instrument that gave legal effect to the birth of MIF gives him and his Finance minister too much power to hide things.

THE drumbeat of anger that has shaken Zimbabwe since President Emmerson Mnangagwa pushed through radical changes to the Sovereign Wealth Fund last month must be taken seriously.

Those expressing their deep concerns and urging caution are not doing it for fun.

They are Zimbabweans who want this country to prosper. Still, they know that democracies and promising economies have collapsed where citizens see dangers but choose to keep quiet.

They are demanding swift changes to the way Mutapa Investment Fund (MIF) was established, especially with indications that public funds may be at the mercy of looters under its current state.

They also know that once the looting starts; there will be nothing left for everyone. Zimbabwe’s rulers loot with precision. One needs to look at the war veterans’ and Aids funds to see how this appetite to steal destroyed lives. In its current state, MIF exhibits the hallmarks  of being emptied to buy fast cars and mansions for Zimbabwe’s elite.

Mnangagwa has made serious blunders.

The Statutory Instrument that gave legal effect to the birth of MIF gives him and his Finance minister too much power to hide things.

MIF will be exempted from procurement laws.

The President knows that back stage deals in procurement are rampant, and they have been producing undeserving millionaires in government. Even though there have been spirited efforts to fight in the President’s corner, those defending him know that government has opened the floodgates for unrestrained looting.

Public institutions that concentrate key appointments into the hands of only a few have always had one common outcome - corruption. Those entrusted with the powers to appoint choose their clansmen, even if they are not qualified. Zimbabweans have witnessed this in the past month, when Mnangagwa appointed his relatives to high profile jobs after the  August 23 polls. With his new powers to select who sits at the summit of a huge fund like MIF, what guarantees does Zimbabweans have that he will not act in the same manner. Authorities are consolidating their positions in strategic and lucrative positions and institutions.

None knows why they are doing this, and what the end game will be. Maybe they are hiding something. But in countries where so much power has been concentrated in the hands of only a few, laws have been brazenly ignored to prop up looters. Even experts contend that MIF is a legally nullity. But given what has happened so far, bureaucrats have taken defensive positions, and will not listen.

Politician and legal expert, Fadzayi Mahere was very eloquent in her analysis on the whole MIF fiasco this week. She said: “Mr Mnangagwa’s unconstitutional changes to the legal framework of Zimbabwe’s Sovereign Wealth Fund signal a new era of predatory looting of state assets and natural resources by Mr Mnangagwa and the illegal”.

She may be dismissed as a bitter Citizens Coalition for Change activist.

But even senior legal practitioners said they were of the same view.

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