Reputedly ‘Zimbabwe’s richest’ man.Zanu-PF heir-in-waiting Emmerson Mnangagwa was a few years ago described as ‘Zimbabwe’s richest man’ by Wikileaks cables written by a US ambassador in 2001. The cables, however, shied away from estimating his wealth in numbers.“Regarded as the wealthiest individual in Zimbabwe, Mnangagwa has close business links with Colonel Lionel Dyck, a white officer from the old Rhodesian army who founded Mine Tech, a landmine clearance company that secured lucrative contracts from the Zimbabwean government to clear landmines in Zimbabwe border areas after the war,” Wikipedia said in a post updated after Mnangagwa was appointed vice-president in December 2014.Various sources, including Zimbabwean and UK media outlets, allege Mnangagwa made much of his money while he was secretary for finance in Zanu-PF.This, according to the the United Nations Security Council reports in 2002 and 2003, was supplemented by his involvement as one of the illegal mineral exploiters in the Congo. The report named Mnangagwa in a long-standing United Nations investigation into the looting of the Congo’s mineral wealth.The Wikileaks exposed lend credence to claims that as finance secretary, Mnangagwa controlled Zanu-PF’s octopus-like business empire spanning motor vehicles, duty-free shops, banking, airline catering, mining, retail, food processing, agriculture and manufacturing.In the past, it was also reported Zanu-PF owned companies such as M&S Syndicate, Zidco Holdings and Zidlee Enterprises. In turn, the two companies reportedly owned stakes in FBC Bank, Lobels Bread, SMM Holdings, Catercraft and Tregers, among others.Like most of Mugabe’s trusted lieutenants, he also allegedly seized a farm from a white owner called Koos Burger. Burger was forced to claim political asylum in the US due to death threats when he contested the seizure, the New Statesman reported at the time. Zimbabwe media also previously reported that Mnangagwa previously seized the 1 600-hectare Sherwood farm in Kwe Kwe without compensating its white owner.Reports carried by Zimnowmedia and an author named ‘Amelia Johnson’ indicated that Zanu-PF acting president Mnangagwa’s private interests include retailers Jaggers and Metropeech, farms and mines. It was also alleged a lot of his businesses are run in partnership with white, ex-Rhodesian businessmen.In 2004, the Zanu-PF politburo launched an investigation into reported massive theft of party funds. Former army commander General Solomon Mujuru was appointed to lead the investigations. Before he could present his final report to the politburo, Mujuru died in a mysterious inferno that has been blamed on Mnangagwa.Mnangagwa’s wealth was amassed while he earned an annual salary of $17 336 136 (about R243 304 000) as speaker of the Zimbabwean parliament, and reportedly also received $22 980 (about R322 460) representation allowances annually.***
Zim’s ‘most corrupt official’ reportedly found with R140m cash, ‘owned 100 properties’Gosebo Mathope
Dr Ignatius Chombo. Facebook.
Former prime minister and MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai likened Chombo to a greedy baboon trying to grab every cob from a farmer’s maize field.An equivalent of one hundred and forty million rands in cold, hard cash. This is the amount Finance Minister Dr Ignatius Chombo was reportedly found with at his Harare home after the property was raided by the military last Wednesday.According to NewZimabwe.com, Chombo is regarded as one of President Robert Mugabe’s “most corrupt officials”. The unverified claim that Chombo had bags of cash at his plush home was made by independent Norton legislator Temba Mliswa in an interview with Al Jazeera.The revelations that Chombo could have hoarded this much cash at home, understandably to avoid queuing with ordinary Zimbabweans as banks are battling to dispense cash at several ATMs in the capital city, came as no surprise.Described by Zimbabwe Independent newspaper as “undistinguished scandal-prone minister”, allegations of Chombo’s staggering wealth amassed at the expense of ordinary Zimbabweans who are widely believed to survive on less than one US dollar a day (R14 at current exchange) first surfaced during an embarrassing divorce battle with his wife in 2010.Further properties included two Bulawayo houses, a house at 18 Cuba Road in Mount Pleasant, a house at 45 Basset Crescent in Alexander Park, 2 Chetugu housesThe former college lecturer was embroiled in a bitter legal feud with ex-wife Marian Chombo, who told the Harare High Court she was entitled to half of the then home affairs minister’s assets. The sheer opulence of the estate left then prime minister and MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai aghast. He likened Chombo to a greedy baboon trying to grab every cob from a farmer’s maize field.Through his lawyers, he claimed he “didn’t own 90%” of the properties listed by the Herald, which quoted court papers submitted by his wife claiming he owned nearly 100 properties, 15 cars, trucks, safari camps and 10 companies.Among the vehicles Mrs Chombo wanted to split between herself and her estranged husband, who comes from the same district as Robert Mugabe, included 4 Toyota Land Cruiser, 3 Mercedes-Benzes, 1 Mahindra, 2 Nissa Wolfs, 1 Toyota Vigo, 1 Mazada BT-50, 1 bus, 1 Nissan Hardbody and 1 Toyota Hilux.Properties listed in court paper were as follows: two Glen View houses, two flats in Queensdale, a property in Katanga township, a plot of land at 1 037 Mount Pleasant Heights, four Norton business stands, three Chinhoyi business stands, four Banket business stands, one commercial stand in Epworth, two residential stands in Chirundu, four commercial stands in Kariba and one stand each in Ruwa, Chinhoyi, Zvimba Rural District, and two stands each in Mutare and Binga.Marian Chombo also wanted the court to rule that she be allowed to share farming equipment at New Allan Grange FarmMrs Chombo also laid claim to four stands in Victoria Falls, two residential and two commerical stands in Chitungwiza, four stands in Beit Bridge, 20 stands in Crowhill, Borrowdale, 10 stands in Glen Lorne, two flats at Eastview Gardens, a flat at San Sebastian Flats in the Avenues in Harare, a stand at 79 West Road in Avondale, a house in Greendale, property at 36 Cleveland Road, Milton Park and at 135 Port Road in Norton.Further properties included two Bulawayo houses, a house at 18 Cuba Road in Mount Pleasant, a house at 45 Basset Crescent in Alexander Park, 2 Chetugu houses, another house at Glen Lorne in Harare, two houses at Victoria Falls, a stand along Simon Mazorodze Road, a stand in Norton, two stands in Avondale, a stand at 36 Beverly House, three stand in Bulawayo and one stand in Mica Road in Kariba,Marian Chombo also wanted the court to rule that she be allowed to share farming equipment at New Allan Grange Farm, which included three tractors, two new combined harvesters, two boom sprayers and two engines.***
CASH AND CORRUPTION
Can new leaders be trusted to bring Zimbabwe back from bankruptcy?Zimbabwe’s intra-elite transition — a palace coup with little blood spilled and careful diplomatic power-transfer language – resolves a long-simmering faction fight within the ruling party and ends the extraordinary career of Robert Mugabe.His long-standing Zanu-PF comrade, Emmerson Mnangagwa, is widely mistrusted due to his responsibility for (and refusal to acknowledge) the "Gukurahundi" massacre of more than 20,000 people, mainly members of the minority Ndebele ethnic group from 1982-85.He also stands accused of subverting the 2008 election. And as for his personal wealth, consider Mnangagwa’s close proximity as defence minister to widespread diamond looting from 2008-16. Indeed, in 2016 Mugabe himself complained of revenue shortfalls from diamond mining in eastern Zimbabwe’s Marange fields: "I don’t think we’ve exceeded $2bn or so, and yet we think that well over $15bn or more has been earned in that area."The vast scale of this theft was confirmed by anticorruption campaigner Farai Maguwu. For Mnangagwa to set up the main Marange joint venture – Sino Zimbabwe – with the notorious Anjin Investments boss, Sam Pa (now apparently jailed), the army occupied the Marange fields. In November 2008, troops then murdered several hundred small-scale artisanal miners.As a result, concern arises that celebration of the coup and at least momentary adoration of the army will relegitimise a brutal Zanu-PF network and thus slow a more durable transition to democracy and economic justice.Aside from a popular revolution, the only other safeguard would be the urgent appointment of a genuine government of national unity that could acquire desperately needed funds from China
and the main western donors in Washington and the EU.Zimbabwe is broke. Late in 2016 $200m worth of a dubious new currency (the "bond note") was introduced by the Zimbabwe Reserve Bank. The reason for this move was that officially accepted US dollars and South African rand, which most Zimbabweans have used since 2009, fell into increasingly short supply, causing payment system blockages and renewing fear of hyperinflation. Some banks only offer customers $5 per day maximum cash allowances.Beijing’s Global Times, which often parrots official wisdom, became increasingly wary of Mugabe. According to a contributor, Wang Hongwi of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, "Mnangagwa, a reformist, will abolish Mugabe’s faulty investment policy. In a country with a bankrupt economy, whoever takes office needs to launch economic reforms and open up to foreign investment… Chinese investment in Zimbabwe has also fallen victim to Mugabe’s policy and some projects were forced to close down or move to other countries in recent years, bringing huge losses." (Hongwi did not mention whether Sam Pa represents the ethos of such Chinese investors.)Mnangagwa is not only being toasted in Beijing, but also by Tory geopolitical opportunists in London. Although many Britons object, the UK ambassador to Zimbabwe, Catriona Laing, has for three years attempted to "rebuild bridges and ensure that re-engagement succeeds to facilitate Mnangagwa’s rise to power" with a reported $2bn economic bail-out.There is every reason to fear that while launching "economic reforms" to increase business power, the post-Mugabe Zanu-PF leaders will amplify old habits, combining state asset stripping, repression and profiteering.This is likely if the country’s financial crisis continues into the Christmas season and donor aid is not forthcoming.Economic barriers to bureaucratic looting are periodically reached in Zimbabwe — for example, when the world’s worst hyperinflation wiped out the former currency in 2008 — and new arrangements are required (in that case, the turn to the US dollar and rand).Today, hoarding hard currencies under the mattress represents one form of stored value during crisis, since placing them in bank accounts risks Reserve Bank seizure.Other desperation strategies include rapid purchases of consumer durables each payday, as well as raging speculation in bitcoin, real estate and the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange, which was the world’s fastest rising bourse in 2017 despite rapid economic decline.For nearly two decades the Zimbabwe government has been in default on $9bn-plus of international debt and today is failing to pay foreign corporations profit remittances they are due. Even state restrictions against importing those basic goods that should instead be manufactured in Zimbabwe failed to ease the currency shortage.Two of the most crucial economic decisions the next government will face are whether to continue introducing $300m worth of fast-devaluing bond notes into the banking system in the next few weeks, and whether to honour a huge fine due to the US Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control.US President Donald Trump’s treasury secretary, Steven Mnuchin (formerly of Goldman Sachs), is demanding immediate payment of $385m — down from an initial $3.8bn — by the country’s largest bank, Commercial Bank of Zimbabwe, following more than 15,000 separate cases of sanctions busting that date from the Bush and Obama regimes’ punishment of Mugabe for human rights violations.In a third financial controversy, the Movement for Democratic Change’s (MDC’s) 2009-13 finance minister, Tendai Biti, suspects his immediate successor, Patrick Chinamasa, has fraudulently issued treasury bills and backed up the new currency with illegitimate African Export-Import Bank loans.Biti is calling for a full debt audit. (That may be one reason Chinamasa said on Sunday that Zanu-PF has no interest in a coalition government with democratic opponents.)To make matters worse, those whose savings were in the Harare stock market discovered that the coup week’s uncertainty left them 18% poorer, as the shares’ capital value fell from $15.1bn to $12.4bn, caused mainly by international investor panic selling.In this context, says University of Zimbabwe law scholar Munyaradzi Gwisai, "There’s a potential that the Mnangagwa, MDC elites and the military could be part of a national unity government. Ultimately they are also scared of the working class, because austerity could lead to revolts."
• Bond teaches political economy at the Wits School of Governance. He is the author of Uneven Zimbabwe: A Study of Finance, Development and Underdevelopment, and co-author of Zimbabwe’s Plunge: Exhausted Nationalism, Neoliberalism and the Search for Social Justice.