Outspoken former war veterans’ leader Jabulani Sibanda says a glaring lack of government accountability coupled with gross corruption by many Zanu PF bigwigs was at the heart of Zimbabwe’s continuing political and economic crisis.
Speaking in an interview with the Daily News on Saturday, the brutally candid Sibanda said Zanu (PF) was solely to blame for the myriad challenges facing the country, and not opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai and the targeted sanctions imposed by the West, as President Robert Mugabe’s ruling party liked to claim.
Sibanda was controversially booted out of Zanu (PF) last year after he threatened to mobilise war veterans to seek audience with Mugabe over the party’s deadly infighting, as well the many challenges that war veterans continued to experience 35 years after Zimbabwe’s independence from Britain in April 1980.
Before that, he had also colourfully pronounced that he was not going to allow “any coup both in the boardroom and in the bedroom” at the height of the party’s anarchy last year that was fronted by First Lady Grace Mugabe — as it became increasingly clear that she had become the power behind the throne in the run-up to Zanu PF’s disputed December congress.
The utterances subsequently resulted in Sibanda being incarcerated on charges of breaching the country’s controversial slander laws — insulting or undermining the authority of the president. The matter is still before the courts.
In the interview with the Daily News, Sibanda said Zanu PF’s claims that Tsvangirai had invited sanctions to Zimbabwe and its leadership were now “clearly tired”.
“Before we accuse Tsvangirai or any foreigner of hurting our country let us look at ourselves. We have failed as a government and we are now even failing as a party, and as a result the revolution is being liquidated in the process,” Sibanda charged.
He also accused Mugabe of “listening to misleading voices” in Zanu PF party and of “feigning surprise” when the president had been informed about how corrupt most of his ministers were.
Sibanda added pointedly that this was the “real reason” why the country was in the mess it was in, and why its resources such as diamonds were being plundered by foreign companies working in cahoots with some ruling party elements.
“During the Zanu PF conference in 2012 Mugabe asked where our diamonds were going. It was a rhetoric question of course because he knows everything.
“He went on to tell the nation that a Cabinet minister had demanded a $70 000 bribe from an investor, but did we see the minister being arrested?” Sibanda asked.
He also alleged that Mugabe had inexplicably allowed the Zimbabwe National Army to be registered as a mining entity in the Chiadzwa diamond fields, without remitting any proceeds to Treasury.
“We have a president who is misled by people who are surrounding him, because he is on record in Parliament naming people in corruption scandals involving diamonds, only to turn around and exonerate those people.
“This means that there are two people here, one who informed him about the corruption and the other who protected the accused. That is where the problem is. He allows himself to be misled.”
Confirming the long-held view that the army had committed crimes against humanity in the Chiadzwa diamond fields when they were deployed there, ostensibly to drive out illegal miners, Sibanda said the military had also killed two sons of war veterans.
“The army is now a mining entity in a joint venture with Anjin, yet they are salaried from the Treasury. They even committed crimes in the mining fields and we have a record of two sons of war veterans who were actually killed in that operation,” he claimed.
However, Sibanda expressed the hope that the country’s economic crisis, presided over by Zanu PF, could still be overcome.
“I am pleased that the problems we face are still within the reach of Zimbabweans. We need to have a combination of patience and courage to face our situation and God will be on our side. We will triumph,” he said thoughtfully.
Sibanda’s assessment of the problems afflicting the country dovetail with what the Speaker of the National Assembly, Jacob Mudenda, said in December last year.
Mudenda told MPs during a post-budget seminar which was held in Harare that the ruling party should stop blaming their failure to recalibrate the national economy on sanctions, since Western countries had now lifted them.
He added that sanctions could no longer be a scapegoat for failure to get industries functioning, blaming this on a lack of political will on the part of Zanu PF to implement much-needed policies meant to kick-start the economy.
“They have removed the sanctions and there is an opportunity that we must now hold onto and implement.
“Doors have opened and let us invite those who have money from Europe to bring in that money here in Zimbabwe under Zimbabwe Coalition on Debt and Development (ZimCodd) and see whether they will refuse,” Mudenda said.
Tsvangirai’s MDC earlier this week called on Mugabe and Zanu PF to quit government and make way for a transitional administrative government if thousands of Zimbabweans were not to starve.
This came after last weekend’s revelations Mugabe at Kutama Mission’s centenary celebrations where the president stunned the gathered crowd by saying that he was feeling increasingly tired and troubled.
Among some of the problems bedevilling the nonagenarian leader are his advanced age, an ailing Grace, Zimbabwe’s worsening economic problems and political tensions in both his party and the country.
In a statement, MDC spokesperson Obert Gutu said the biggest challenge facing Zimbabwe today was a “lack of political legitimacy stemming from a renegade and corrupt regime that is driving the country into a socio-economic and political hell-hole”.
“The people of Zimbabwe are living in virtual political and socio-economic bondage as a direct result of the ruinous economic and political trajectory that Zimbabwe has taken over the past 35 years, with Mugabe at the helm,” Gutu said.
He said the majority of people were living in abject poverty because of Zanu PF’s misrule, adding that the country’s erratic rain season also meant that millions of Zimbabweans would need food relief.
Gutu said the Zanu PF government was bankrupt and would not be able to raise funds to import maize to avert mass starvation.
“While the economy continues to nosedive and the public health delivery system has literally gone to the dogs, we have a president who is now permanently domiciled aboard an Air Zimbabwe jet as he hops from one foreign destination.
Daily News on Sunday