Beware of those who loot in the “national interest”


By Trevor Ncube

I think there is someone very close to President Emmerson Mnangagwa who is fixated on looting public resources. I hope and pray that it is not the president himself or his wife.

But how else do we explain the crude plot to shield from public scrutiny, via a statutory instrument, procurement of services and equipment for the Ministry of Health so soon after the Gold Mafia scandal?

While Mnangagwa has distanced himself from the offending SI at the time of writing, nothing has been done to repeal it. So, it remains law.

The President and his wife were both implicated in the gold smuggling scam and while we wait for him to clear his name, someone well connected attempts another heist. Mnangagwa’s silence on the gold mafia scandal is an insult to the electorate and understandably fuels rumours and speculation as the public searches for answers.

SI 635 of 2023 sought to shield procurement of construction equipment and materials, biomedical equipment, hospital protective equipment, vehicles including ambulances, laboratory equipment and chemicals and accessories from tender processes. Justification for this was that these are of “national interest and shall not be publicly disclosed.” This imperious posturing must emanate from people who feel entitled to do as they wish with taxpayer funds.

Warning lights should go off whenever a politician claims to be doing something in the national interest. “National interest” is an umbrella that politicians use to cover up their sins.

In April this year the High Court dismissed graft charges against Natpharm managing director Flora Sifeku. Her crime was to refuse to comply with an order to seek a waiver from the Procurement Regulatory Authority to go for direct purchase of sundries worth US$15 million. The beneficiary of this scheme would have been Papi Pharma LLC represented by Delish Nguwaya. Delish is close to the First Family. SI 635 was meant to achieve this long-term plot to circumvent public scrutiny so as to line private pockets.

In another crafty move in 2021, Mnangagwa declared all roads in the country a State of Disaster so as to “facilitate the release of funds for the maintenance and repair works.” This had the appearance of a noble cause except the whole country is a national disaster. Why single out roads? On closer scrutiny, cartels close to Mnangagwa were primed to grab road construction contracts without public scrutiny.

This appears to be the modus operandi: cartels hatch out which sectors to target and then an enabling legal or policy framework is put in place. This is what happened with Command Agriculture and the aborted attempts to privatise Fidelity Printers and Refiners. Zimbabwe is witnessing corruption on steroids and the creation of an oligarchy benefiting a Zanu-PF faction linked to Mnangagwa.

Creation of indigenous capitalists is not a bad idea on condition there is broad- based policy formulation, transparency and accountability at implementation stage. We are witnessing indigenisation by stealth for the benefit of a small circle around Mnangagwa.  This is corruption which must be stopped. National assets and public money must not be distributed without the consent of the taxpayers. Indeed, taxation without accountability is illegitimate!

The public still deserves to know from Mnangagwa who was behind this attempted looting. Those responsible for crafting the offending law must be fired and the looters behind them face the wrath of the law. Don’t hold your breath.

In Conversation With John Masuku


Veteran broadcaster and media consultant, John Masuku, is a national treasure. He represents the finest that Zimbabwe has produced in this sector such as Ray Chirisa, Maguire Godzongere, Luke Mkhandla, Amon Nyamambi and Ephraim Chamba, to mention a few. In this episode , John takes us down memory lane from Rhodesia, Zimbabwe Rhodesia and independent Zimbabwe as a broadcaster. He also shares the lessons learnt from being fired from ZBC and having (Voice of the People) VOP offices bombed. It has not been an easy road but he has survived the test of time. Watch his episode here..

Audience Responses

From the John Masuku episode, our community had this to say:

tafi mutekwe:
Waaal, thanks Trevor. You took me way back to my pre-teen days on RBC when as a young boy in primary school I was exposed to the voice of John Masuku who had a very passionate love for smanje-manje music of the likes of The Mahotella Queens, Dark City Sisters etc. and would blast the airwaves with this fast beat alongside his fellow announcer who shared the same passion Jabulani Mangena ; but of course me, being mentally colonized, preferred rock and pop music. Time has been very good to this radio vet because many of his peers are late now.
Mbalisi Moyo:
What a great man John Masuku is!! What an attitude!! If our country had only a hundred men like John, I tell you, the sky would just but be a ceiling. Siyabonga baba Masuku for your contribution. Thank you Trevor for bringing such great individuals into conversation.
MsekiwA MakwAnya:
Amazing interview – John is clearly one of the best there is around us. Well done Trevor for this rich conversation.

Coming Next: In Conversation with Elisabeth Valerio


Don’t miss the next episode with 2023 Presidential Candidate, United Zimbabwe Alliance Elisabeth Valerio In Conversation with Trevor.

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in conversation with trevorZimbabwean entrepreneur and newspaper publisher Trevor Ncube sits
down with various high-profile guests in a series of candid,
conversations that seeks to go beyond the headlines
and beyond the sensational.

Book of the Week

book cover

A Zambian Journalist: In Pursuit of Three Freedoms by Mike Daka

yours on Amazon

Recommended Reading:

Nkomo, The Story of My Life

by Joshua Nkomo

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