By Alex Bell
SW Radio Africa
06 January 2013
As corruption in Zimbabwe continues to thrive, more unnamed government ministers have been accused of being involved in multi-million dollar fraudulent deals.
According to a report by the Daily News newspaper government officials “could be receiving millions of dollars in bribes from foreign businessmen who use local politicians to launder money from Zimbabwe.”
Quoting email communications and other documents, the newspaper reports that government officials “work with middlemen who collect bribery money on behalf of billionaires some from Europe, who then benefit from deals to mine or buy gold and diamonds then smuggle minerals and cash out of the country.”
The report quotes emails between Harare based businessman Kamal Khalfan and a German national who asked for help to “clandestinely acquire diamonds from top government officials using opaque methods.” The German man reportedly told Khalfan that the deal to buy diamonds should not go through “official channels” but through underhand dealings using top government officials.
In the email exchanges, which Khalfan has insisted were “stolen” to damage his reputation, the businessman reportedly suggests that the German national must “budget for money to pay government officials in return for the favours he wanted.”
The report comes in the wake of calls for the new Mines Minister Walter Chidhakwa to name the individuals he claims have tried to bribe him, ever since he was sworn into office last year. The Minister claimed that within the first eight weeks of being Minister, he was offered bribes from senior players in the mining sector.
Zimbabwe’s corruption problem has continued to deepen in recent years, and in late 2013 the country was ranked as the third most corruption nation in Africa. According to an Afrobarometer report released in Senegal in November, corruption in Zimbabwe stands at 81 percent. This puts the country just behind Nigeria and Egypt, whose corruption statistics are slightly higher at 82 percent. In Zimbabwe corruption increased by 43 percent between 2002 and 2012, the report said.
A separate report on corruption in the country has also suggested that the problem is worsening. International anti-corruption watchdog, Transparency International (TI) last month said Zimbabwe was one of the most corrupt countries in the world. In its 2013 Corruption Perception Index (CPI), TI said Zimbabwe was ranked 157 out of the 177 assessed nations, making the country the most corrupt in the Southern African region.
Political commentator Clifford Mashiri said that corruption will continue to worsen in Zimbabwe until there is the political will to tackle the issue. He told SW Radio Africa that “no one is interested in doing anything about it, because the people who can do something about it are the people involved.”
“It is the ordinary Zimbabwe who will continue to suffer as long as corruption carries on unchecked. And there is no way we should expect any political will (to change the situation) from the current dispensation,” Mashiri said.
This was echoed by Farai Maguwu, the head of the Centre for Natural Resource Governance. He told SW Radio Africa that tackling corruption “needs strong political will to put the foot down and start correcting where we got it wrong.”