By John Chimunhu|
Now Daily News Analysis|
Some time ago, president Robert Mugabe’s nephew Phillip Chiyangwa was asked in parliament by the former Bulawayo MP David Coltart to explain the source of his wealth.
The question caught him by surprise. Typically – like all characters associated with the Mugabe dictatorship – Chiyangwa became evasive and abusive.
“I made my money selling sweets and cigarettes on the streets of Chegutu. And I leant good English by reading the newspaper. In any case what does that have to do with you?” was Chiyangwa’s response, or words to that effect.
Later, when Mugabe’s wife Grace Mugabe was asked a similar question during a television interview, she came up with an equally dubious answer.
“I make my money by knitting and sewing. Whenever there’s no money in the house, I take out my machine and knit jerseys,” Grace Mugabe said, trying to explain away the millions of dollars that had been discovered in her secret bank accounts by the ever-vigilant private press.
In the past few weeks, we have been subjected to more displays of opulence and vulgar wealth by regime officials. The so-called 21st February movement, a pro-Mugabe militia announced that it would host a birthday gala for the 91 year-old tyrant in the world-famous Victoria Falls resort at a staggering cost of $1 million, which will obviously be siphoned from state coffers.
Days later, Chiyangwa went about displaying his new toy, a $500 000 custom-made limousine – the only one in the world – according to him.
Chiyangwa, as everyone should know, made money through corrupt land deals facilitated by his relative Elijah Chanakira. Chanakira, the former Harare commission chairperson, allowed Chiyangwa to seize vast tracts of municipal land for next to nothing. He received his kickback when Chiyangwa built him a mansion next to his in Ballantyne Park, Harare. Chiyangwa has further used his connection to Mugabe, the world’s most brutal dictator, to acquire choice real estate around Zimbabwe.
As for Grace Mugabe, she could not conceivably have acquired those billions stashed away in Asian banks by knitting jerseys! It is on record that she looted the Marange diamonds and ransacked white commercial farms, chasing away the owners with nothing but the clothes on their backs. Now she has seized the whole of the plush Mazowe valley, chasing away black farmers who had been settled there. She stands to make billions from the gold deposits there.
The point is, political corruption is worse than ordinary corruption because the characters involved are not just happy with stealing. They are vain and want to show it off, rattling legitimate business the way another relative, Patrick Zhuwao has been doing at Telecel.
In a society riddled with poverty such as ours, throwing grand parties while the people starve is a recipe for future chaos. Such reckless flaunting of stolen wealth is not good for the country’s external relations.
Does it make sense for Mugabe to go begging for aid from the west and the east while blowing up millions on cultic birthday galas? As the former US ambassador to Zimbabwe, James McGee put it, these ‘beggars in Rolexes’ who change Mercedes Benz limos like socks do not deserve a moment of the world’s attention.
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