HomeEditorial CommentSibanda, Undenge and Wicknell — a case of the three stooges

Sibanda, Undenge and Wicknell — a case of the three stooges

On Tuesday last week, President Robert Mugabe’s chief secretary, Dr Misheck Sibanda who is also chief secretary for Cabinet, told the media that Zimbabwe was on the verge of economic recovery.


He went on to urge the media to report this widely and to credit what he said were government interventions for the rebound. He cited activities at an Arda farm in Kadoma as evidence of this economic miracle.

Arda, a government-controlled agricultural entity spread across the country, is known in Zimbabwe as the typical example of government failure. The collapse of this once mainstay of national agriculture is characterised by incompetence, massive pillaging and wanton stripping of assets by government officials. The demise of Arda has been the major reason for calls on Agriculture minister Joseph Made to resign or better still, for Mugabe to fire him.

That an isolated achievement at one Arda Doreen’s Pride Estate in Kadoma, could inspire the president and cabinet’s chief secretary to tell Zimbabweans to view their crumbling livelihoods as economic recovery, baffles the mind.

It is difficult to understand how one of Mugabe’s chief advisors expected people to see economic recovery in the face of a return to frightful food shortages and a crippling money crisis. It needs no special eye to see that Zimbabwe’s economy is hurtling down towards that forgettable 2008 cesspit — and not the opposite.

While Sibanda was making these incredulous economic recovery claims, reports around the country were of people spending most of their time in bank queues where they were failing to access their deposits because the country has no money.

Elsewhere, government-owned papers had their front pages dominated on a daily basis by stories of government ministers involved in shameful misappropriation of public money. The deals involved controversial business people, including Wicknell Chivhayo, an ex-convict whose past and business deals are riddled with bullets of depravity.

It does not help matters that despite Energy minister Samuel Undenge making newspaper headlines in recent months over indecent financial behaviour bordering on fraud and corruption, his principal, President Mugabe, has said and done nothing.

It must be worrisome too for Zimbabweans, that Chivhayo, who has confessed to improper dealings in a case where he has taken millions of dollars of public money and stands to benefit from another $200 million, can continue to insult Zimbabweans with sickening arrogance, claiming nothing will happen to him — just as it is “inevitable” for him to keep the money.

Chivhayo — who claims to have learnt a lot of lessons in prison where he was jailed for fraud — admits to having gone against the law in the manner the millions of public money have been and will continue to be given to him.

He brags about being a multi-millionaire who will be “rich forever” but does not speak about making right the flawed tender process by paying what he must pay. Instead, he says he will do so in future government tenders that he is sure he will continue to be given.

What Zimbabweans know, however, is that Chivhayo is a close friend of Mugabe’s family and that he boasts about this relationship, flaunting pictorial evidence while declaring “there is nothing anybody can do to me”.

He has published pictures of him with Mugabe, which he captioned the president as his “father” and another photograph taken overseas in which he is having a meal with the First Lady Grace and the president’s eldest son Robert Junior.

Many people now believe the existence of this publicised close relationship, which the First Family has not disputed despite Chivhayo’s criminal record and current shoddy deals. They are convinced the relationship is the basis for the ex-convict’s arrogant impunity and condescending behaviour that makes him refer to the national soccer team, the Warriors, as “my players”.

Minister Samuel Undenge has in recent weeks portrayed himself as one official who is either utterly crooked, outright dull, or both. The Energy minister found himself neck-deep in scandals involving an iffy public relations company, Fruitful Communications, owned by Psychology Maziwisa and Oscar Pambuka, a controversial Zanu PF MP and former ZBC newscaster respectively.

The minister stuttered, stumbled and fell in spectacular fashion in a fruitless and vain attempt to clear himself from the embarrassing act of corruption. And, hardly had he smarted from this mess did he find himself in another cesspool involving the criminal disbursement of millions of dollars of public money to the ex-convict, Chivhayo without the requisite security.

In the midst of this embarrassing drama, social media commentators described Undenge as an amateur Zanu PF crook, and a foolish one too!

The story of these three musketeers once again portrays how the culture of impunity and arrogance among political and government officials has taken such deep root in Zimbabwe it has eaten through the economic fabric of the country.

Arrogance has become the pillar from where the ugly tentacles of corruption have vampirically sucked the blood of this economy dry. Zanu PF politicians and associated looters have pillaged the country left, right and centre over many years, with the impunity of fools that do not think there is a tomorrow.

These politicians are determined to bleed this country to death — completely oblivious of the fact that if they continue on this path, there soon will be nothing to go after, but each other.

The greed-induced decay in Zanu PF has reduced it to some rotten entity with vague plans and inept leadership. They may be a bunch of clueless politicians whose unbridled greed knows no bounds, but these people should not be allowed to continue to ruin our lives by running this country as if it is their private property.

The problem is that those that are expected to rein in this arrogance (the MPs, police and anti-graft bodies) are also drowning in greed and are therefore busy looting and bootlicking instead of counselling restraint. These apple-polishing hangers-on have stupefied our leaders into believing they are the last Pharaohs and nothing will ever happen to them.
But like I have said before, survival instinct has the last word — always!

l Feedback: tchipangura@standard.co.zw

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