Jitters over Al Jazeera exposé telling


GOOD day President Emmerson Mnangagwa,

Your Excellency, rarely has Zanu PF and the said new dispensation been in jitters as they are now. Contrary to their characteristic obstinacy, they are unnerved, emotionally wearied and worried.

Given their hallmark mulish determination to always be on the offensive, oddly, they are on the defensive. They are throwing brickbats at all and sundry, out of fear of the likelihood of the exposure of their financial seamy side.

Ever since Al Jazeera, the Qatar-based State-owned public broadcaster, announced that it would release a four-part documentary titled Gold Mafia, both the Zanu PF and State apparatuses have erupted into aggressive refutation. They burst forth into confutation.

Although the documentary is yet to be premiered, the intensity of the opposition to its being aired is, nonetheless, vicious and altogether unremitting.

It has been declared that any Zimbabwean who participated in the making of the documentary must be arrested.

Also, a stern threat to pull down satellite dishes was issued. Yet, the documentary is said to be a journalistic tell-all exposé of flagrant money-laundering involving gold committed by some prominent Zimbabwean businesspeople, government, Zanu PF and central bank officials.

Your Excellency, your branding of the makers of the documentary sellouts amounts to inciting violence. It was contrary to your public denunciation of corruption. Yet, you actually pledged to fight corruption when you assumed the Presidency.

Methinks the original intention for making the documentary was to complement your aspirations for zero tolerance to corruption. It stands to reason, from where I stand, that the makers of the documentary duly deserve the presidential award.

Given that you pledged in front of God, man and the ancestors, to eradicate corruption, it is, therefore, logical that you owe it to yourself in particular, and citizenry in general, to compliment, with profound gratitude, citizenry whose ventures are inspired by the values you espouse.

Your Excellency, if you were to ask me to pinpoint a patriotic act, I would single out the making of the documentary. It is my fervent conviction that you robbed yourself of the self-respect that could have lifted you to loftier stations by reading the riot act to the documentary’s makers.

Methinks if the Presidency was well and truly intentioned on eradicating corruption, the documentary could have been received as providential, akin to the Old Testament manna from heaven. Yet, it was not to be, as even Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) governor John Mangudya took a dig at it.

It was a strange twist of decorum that he cast aspersions on people who were interviewed in the documentary. His ridiculing of them as volunteers, who were trying to be big people, was unduly dismissive. It was not gentlemanly for him to view them lowly.

Speaking at a breakfast meeting in Harare, Mangudya exonerated the news agency, but was mean towards those who were interviewed.

“I have nothing against Al Jazeera. It was those people who were interviewed, who were volunteering, who were trying to be big people in talking about Zimbabwe, that this is a place you can launder your funds,” he thundered.

Frankly, had the invitation to participate in the process of putting the documentary together been extended to me, I could have hit the ground running to accept the request. It could have been an assignment I would have dearly loved to undertake.

Your Excellency, corruption is a tumour that is causing monumental socio-economic woes. It has long been casting dark clouds over the country. Consequently, targeted sanctions were imposed by the international community on some individuals and their business entities.

There is evidence galore that corruption is a common thread that runs through government operations, including State-owned enterprises.

A look at the annual reports of the Auditor-General reveals that, indeed, corruption is deep-rooted.

Basically, financial prudence is non-existent in those who handle public funds. Even such institutions as Parliament, the Judiciary and the police yield more to the allure of corruption than to the Constitution. As 16th Century English playwright, poet and actor William Shakespeare once stated, the fault is not in our stars, but in ourselves.

Despite that corruption is widespread, there is an ongoing practice of catch and release, which makes a mockery of your pledge to combat the vice. It is customary that any bigwigs who get arrested are set free after what amounts at most to mock prosecutions.

Your Excellency, your failure to eradicate corruption is plain sight. It was exposed by your appointment of a corruption convict to Cabinet.

And, also by the unprecedented manner with which two former ministers were acquitted of corruption by the High Court on the basis that the prosecution had not told them of the charges they were facing.

Yet, it is foundational for the prosecution to precisely inform the accused of the charges they face.

Notwithstanding that humans are prone to err, methinks an oversight of this magnitude could only have been by design. It does not occur even at the headman’s court.

Ideally, probity warrants accountability and transparency in the management of public affairs.

It is an inalienable right for citizenry to access information from as wide an array of sources as possible. One such source is the four-part documentary, Gold Mafia.

Amid the onslaught against the documentary makers, on the backdrop of the countdown to the harmonised elections, the presage by Noble Prize Winner, professor Akinwande Wole Soyinka’s assertion that “Only in Africa will thieves be regrouping to loot again and the youths whose future is being stolen will be celebrating it,” is pertinent.

Cyprian Muketiwa Ndawana is a public-speaking coach, motivational speaker, speechwriter and newspaper columnist. He writes here in his personal capacity.

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