It’s time to target those who stole public money to fight the Coronavirus

COVID-19

By Joseph Hove

Everyone knows our country is in desperate economic and social dire straits. Zimbabwe’s food situation is worsening by the day as more than 4,3 million people will be food insecure by June this year a food crisis a recently released report has revealed.

According to the Global Report on Food Crises for the year 2020 which was produced by the Food Security Information Network, the Zimbabwean government is highly incapacitated to provide food for the country due to a number of issues, key being the poor performance of the economy.

The Coronavirus crisis is only exacerbating our woes.

Our national debt is around $9 billion, hundreds of per cent of the national GDP. We are in such arrears that we will not be able to take advantage of many of the international bailouts and Coronavirus fighting funds.

So, we have to find far more creative and resourceful ways to find funds to fight the Coronavirus or it could prove to be the death of our economy, leaving even more Zimbabweans in crippling poverty and unemployment. Many will not be able to put food on their family’s plates.

One of the possible ways out of this chaos is for our government to get serious about repatriating stolen national funds, especially from the Mugabe era.

Tens of billions of dollars were looted by Robert Mugabe’s minions during his tyrannical rule and now is the time to see the money returned to the people, and there is no more pressing need than during this time.

In 2016, Mugabe admitted that Zimbabwe had $15 billion stolen in diamond revenue, blaming corruption at the time.

Unfortunately, Mugabe himself is no longer around to face the reckoning, but plenty of other people involved in the episode who flaunt their vast wealth are still around to face the music and give us back our money.

A number of weeks ago Harare Lawyer and businessman Farai Mutamangira was spotted visiting his children at the private Riverton Academy in Masvingo, which itself costs parents tens of thousands of dollars, in a opulent private helicopter.

The average lawyer might make a nice wage, but few, if any, can afford a private helicopter to be able to drop in to spend a few hours with the kids at a luxurious private school.

Mutamangira, it is well known, has in the past been implicated in the stolen $15 billion in diamond national revenue and was allegedly at the centre of its cover up alongside former minister minister Obert Mpofu.

When Mpofu was Mines Minister, it is alleged that he facilitated the payment of money by the Mines and Minerals Corporation of Zimbabwe to his lawyers for unclear services, with Mutamangira at the head of these efforts.

In 2018, the Parliamentary Mines committee chairperson Temba Mliswa presented a report on the diamond sector in the National Assembly which recommended that there should be an “Investigation on Mpofu on directives on monies paid by MMCZ, Marange Resources and Canadile Miners for legal services to Farai Mutamangira which were not specified need to be interrogated.”

Unfortunately, Mutamangira has seemingly priors in the area of corruption and graft.

He was Chairman of the Board of Hwange Colliery Company Limited (HCCL) when it misused $120 million through shoddy dealings, including with the EXIM Bank of India, and was unable to pay its thousands of workers for years leaving them poor, desperate and destitute while retaining his own lucrative position.

For many years, Mutamangira was untouchable because he had the protection of Mugabe. That is no longer the case, even though he was almost made the leader of the National Patriotic Front (NPF), the Mugabe proxy party during the last elections.

Even after Mugabe was deposed, it has been argued that Mutamangira was stuck obeying the former leader until his last breath because Uncle Bob knew where the stolen funds were and Mutamangira did not want it revealed.

When Parliament has summoned Mutamangira in the past to provide evidence on the missing billions, the lawyer has created excuse after excuse to avoid detection and examination.

Now that Mugabe and his cohorts no longer provide Mutamangira with any protection, immunity or impunity, this is precisely the reason why he can and should be immediately investigated so as to retrieve the public’s billions.

Especially now, with the Coronavirus pandemic increasing exponentially, the people demand the return of our hard-earned money from those who stole from us.

Zimbabwe will have so many costs in the upcoming months and with many ways of securing funds barred to us, the Government must make hard decisions about where to find the money to fight the battle against the virus and its vast economic costs.

The people need to believe that the authorities are doing everything possible to fund this difficult battle without making the people foot the bill

Our pockets are already empty after years of corruption, graft and mismanagement.

We need to look back into the past and retrieve stolen public funds that are still available in the present to help us fight for our future.

Mutamangira, and others like him, need to be thoroughly investigated, with no more excuses, brought to justice for his alleged theft and crimes, so the nation’s wealth can be returned to the people to fight the pandemic, save lives and our economy.

This must become a national priority immediately before it is too late.

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