Talk is cheap, Mr President

President Robert Mugabe

PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe, speaking at the Zanu PF conference in December last year, revealed that former South African President Thabo Mbeki had confided in him that some government officials were demanding bribes from prospective investors.

He said Mbeki disclosed that businesspeople with ANC links who wanted to invest in Zimbabwe had been told to pay a $5 million bribe by the unnamed government officials.

Mugabe also admitted that his name was dropped in those discussions with officials indicating that he would get $1 million from the deal.

However, proffering a very convenient excuse for not clamping down on such brazen corruption, the Zanu PF leader said people were not giving him names of corrupt ministers in his government for him to punish them.

Almost a year later, on Tuesday, Mugabe made somehow similar sensational allegations against former Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation (ZMDC) chairman Godwills Masimirembwa.

Poor Masimirembwa was unfortunate because he has been singled out by name and law enforcement agents are now under pressure to bring him to book whether he is guilty or not.

He allegedly demanded and was paid $6 million by a Ghanaian investor who was eyeing a mining project in Zimbabwe.

Mugabe said once the payment was transferred, the ZMDC management asked for further payments in cash and then warned the Ghanaian against visiting Zimbabwe saying he faced arrest.

Officially opening the Eighth Parliament earlier, Mugabe pledged that his new government would have zero tolerance to corruption.

From his narration of events, this alleged extortion was not a one-day event and police and the government at the highest level were being constantly briefed, yet Masimirembwa is still a free man.

In a country where police arrest suspects to investigate them later, is this not rather curious?

Police were also instrumental early this year in blocking the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission from raiding ZMDC offices despite the fact that there were reasonable suspicions all was not well at the State-owned firm.

Crucially, Masimirembwa was allowed to contest on a Zanu PF ticket in Mabvuku during the July 31 elections yet he had all these damning allegations hanging on his neck like an albatross.

Clearly Mugabe has to do more to prove that he is serious about fighting corruption because talk and no action won’t count much.