Top Zimbabwe National Army (ZNA) commander Major General Douglas Nyikayaramba’s call to the government to deal decisively with corruption, especially by senior officials, has been met with scorn amid charges that the securocrats have no moral authority to pontificate about graft.
BY RICHARD CHIDZA
Nyikayaramba, the ZNA’s chief of staff (administration), told Parliament last week that corruption had become a threat to national security.
The military — known for its uncompromising support for President Robert Mugabe and Zanu PF — has been fingered in illicit deals including diamond smuggling stretching back to the civil war in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Nyikayaramba demanded the arrest of those implicated in corruption cases in a pointed attack on Higher Education minister Jonathan Moyo.
Moyo and his deputy Godfrey Gandawa are being investigated by the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission over the alleged abuse of over $400 000 drawn from the Zimbabwe Manpower Development Fund.
Analysts said while Nyikayaramba’s calls were welcome, the army general and other securocrats “must look at themselves in the mirror”.
University of Zimbabwe political scientist Eldred Masunungure said indications were that even Mugabe did not have a clue on what the army was doing at the Marange diamond fields.
“In terms of reports that are circulating, the activities of the military in the Marange diamond fields up to the point of dissolution of the companies were not above board,” he said.
“There is evidence that the military was heavily involved in the extraction of resources legally and probably illegally.
“The army was central to two or three companies and there are allegations of corruption and looting.
“It goes without saying that the military was involved.
“Mugabe’s supposition that at least $15 billion was spirited out of the country also implicates the military.
“The tragedy is that we have very little information and the fact that even the president is in the dark, makes it even more worrisome,”
However, Masunungure said Nyikayaramba was correct in saying that corruption could distabilise the government.
“Nyikayaramba is right on the mark when it comes to his diagnosis of the people’s anger,” he said.
“Zimbabweans are angry and the anger stems from a hungry people.
“As they say, a hungry man is an angry man; there is a likelihood of an uncontrolled explosion of public discontent that Nyikayaramba has obviously foreseen and hence his warning.
“It is too late to nip corruption in the bud, but citizens would want some sort of action as well as clear mitigation measures.”
Former Finance minister and opposition People’s Democratic Party leader Tendai Biti said the army was party to the looting spree that characterised the discovery of diamonds in Marange and should also be investigated.
“In any event, the army should be the last institution to talk about corruption,” he said.
“As an institution, it was involved in the looting of diamonds through its partnership with Anjin with no cent being remitted to treasury.
“The army was involved in dubious platinum deals. There are reports of soldiers who have houses with elevators and that cannot be done through a normal salary.”
But Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans Association spokesperson Douglas Mahiya said Nyikayaramba was spot on and warned that a Zanu PF faction was allegedly amassing too much wealth that could turn its members into “war lords”.
“People must never confuse things or mix issues. There is need for sober reflection of issues and treat each case as it comes,” he said.
“Moyo’s case must be taken to court where he can defend himself.
“Nyikayaramba is spot on and he is basically saying the country could be on the cusp of a civil war if the illegal looting of resources is not curtailed.
“In those countries where you hear there are warlords, it begins with illicit amassing of wealth then these people will begin to buy arms before all hell breaks loose.
“That is what Nyikayaramba is talking about and G40 is working towards exactly that”.
Mavambo/Kusile leader, Simba Makoni said the army’s top brass should now give indications to the country as to how they were going to deal “with this threat to the country’s security”.
“I look at this as a double-edged sword, first it is good that even those in the military now realise how corruption has killed our country,” he said.
“It does not matter that even Mugabe speaks against corruption, what is required and missing is action in terms of dealing with those fingered in looting national resources.
“It is good that the military leadership is now speaking the language some of us have been speaking for years, but the question is what are they going to do or are doing about it.
“Had it been an invasion through our borders by a group of armed bandits, surely we would have been told of how the country’s defence forces are planning to deal with such an issue.
“We would have seen the likes of General Constantino Chiwenga making pronouncements as to how ready and willing the army is to die in defence of the nation.
“Now that Nyikayaramba has described corruption as a national security threat, it is no different from a banditry invasion and we wait for the military’s action plan,” Makoni said.
Makoni also said Nyikayaramba lacked the moral authority to point an accusing finger at politicians in Zanu PF and government.
“Nyikayaramba’s utterances also beg the question of whether those in the intelligence, police and army are clean,” he said.
“They cannot be pointing accusing fingers at other people when their institutions are also equally rotten.
“They should tell us what they are doing with individuals within their ranks accused of amassing wealth through corrupt activities.
“But at the end of the day, now that the likes of Nyikayaramba are speaking the people’s language, we demand action.”
Mugabe last week said he would not protect ministers implicated in corruption cases but insisted that he would not be forced to act based on newspaper reports.