By Tererai Karimakwenda
SW Radio Africa
07 April 2014
As corruption by government officials continues to make headlines, two ZANU PF deputy ministers have been accused of refusing to hand back property belonging to Hwange Colliery Company, which is allegedly losing $14 million per month due to corruption.
According to The Independent newspaper, the allegations were made by the controversial British businessman Nicholas Van Hoogstraten, whose company owns a 15% stake in the struggling national coal mining firm.
In an interview last Wednesday, Van Hoogstraten described “those representing government interests” at Hwange Colliery as “corrupt” and questioned how the company is losing “close to $14 million per month”.
In addition, a forensic audit by Chartered Accountants is reported to have shown that Hwange Colliery and Hwange Gasification companies were “prejudiced” of about $200 million between January 2009 and May 2013, mostly through “massive externalization and fraud”.
“It is not the common worker who is stealing, but those in power, those that cannot be stopped because I have made reports to the highest office in order to stop this rot. But it seems to be unstoppable,” Van Hoogstraten is quoted as saying.
He went further to accuse deputy Mines Minister Fred Moyo of refusing to give back a house he was given when he was managing director at the parastatal. He also claimed that close to 50,000 tonnes of coking coal was shipped to Maputo during Moyo’s tenure, but the company was never paid for it.
The businessman also accused Tendai Savanhu, a deputy minister at the Lands Ministry, of refusing to return a company car that he was using as a board member, despite repeated calls to do so. Savanhu claims to have an agreement with the board, the Independent said, and Moyo claims that he is owed money by the company.
Political analyst Clifford Mashiri said although corruption is widespread in Zimbabwe, it does not surprise him that no arrests have been made because there is a culture of impunity that protects ZANU PF chefs, even when they commit serious human rights abuses.
“It looks like the President, who is supposed to be dealing with these corruption issues, cannot act on his own people. These are civil servants and public officials and they rely on ZANU PF for protection and for everything. They are getting away with murder,” Mashiri told SW Radio Africa.
He added that civil society and the opposition parties, especially the MDC-T, should be grabbing this “gift” from ZANU PF and screaming about their corruption to ensure victory at the next election. But the silence that has followed indicates a lack of leadership on both fronts.
“The fact that they never went into the streets after this last disputed election or protested as vocally as they did in 2008 shows we now have a new civil society culture. It is fear as well as if you can’t beat ZANU PF then join them or keep quiet for your own safety,” Mashiri said.
The allegations by Van Hoogstraten come at a time when workers at Hwange Colliery have gone without wages for about eight months. Earlier this year, police assaulted the workers’ wives after they organised a protest to support their husbands.
Shocking cases of corruption by senior government officials have been exposed at several state institutions, including the public broadcaster ZBC, the national Air Zimbabwe, and the Premier Medical Aid Society. Government has said no crime was committed