Mliswa says there are more White cartels in Zimbabwe but we only attack Black cartels
Independent legislator Temba Mliswa says there are more White cartels in Zimbabwe but it is only the Black cartels that are being attacked.
In his contribution to the debate on the Public Accounts Committee report on the 2017-2018 audit report of the Zimbabwe National Roads Administration (ZINARA) which exposed corruption within the parastatal as well as the rampant employment of unqualified people, Mliswa said it was high time the government allowed black people to enjoy the gains of the liberation struggle.
“Let us celebrate billionaires who are Black, the Strive Masiyiwas, the Kuda Tagwireis, the Phillip Chiyangwas and so forth. This is what it must be about. May we also see Members of Parliament becoming millionaires by you tendering and getting this and getting partners who have capacity,” he said.
“We often attack our Black businessmen for being cartels which have captured the State, but we forget that while we are the majority in this country, the minority who are the Whites have more wealth than us. So how can they make wealth in a country where the majority are Black and the leaders are Black, yet the majority are poor?
“I want to expose the White cartels of this country who have amassed wealth through the highest level of corruption. In amassing wealth through the highest level of corruption, they have created systems parallel to Government to ensure that they are where they are.”
Mliswa said Blacks were not being empowered because the government was obsessed with working with Whites.
“They think that when they see a White man, they do not have to do any due diligence. Where was the due diligence in this? They are so excited about seeing Whites that they think that because he is a White man he must be given a business deal but how many of our Black companies have engineers born and educated in this country who are working all over the world but still they are not able to get business in this country but due diligence is never done because it is a White face.
“Some of the people realise for you to get a good business deal in Zimbabwe, put a White face and government will give you a deal. The due diligence is not done. We have a situation where these cartels of white people are well connected and control the entire security system. They are able to get sympathy from the Central Intelligence Organisation, Army and the Police. So how do you then zero in on them to be able to account for whatever it is? This is evidence that the roads were not done properly. Should it always wait for Parliament to move in to correct a situation? What are all these institutions doing? Parliament can only do so much.”
HON. T. MLISWA: Thank you Madam Speaker for affording me this opportunity to debate on the ZINARA report which has been tabled by our able chairperson, Hon. Brian Dube. Before I go into it, let me also pay gratitude to the former chairman of the Public Accounts Committee, Hon. Tendai Biti for equally leading us in a manner which was very professional, full of knowledge and wisdom, especially with the background that he had as a former Minister of Finance. Equally the Committee itself for dedicating quite a lot of time into this report. We travelled far and further to ensure that the attitude and the discipline were in place to come with such a report. Again the Committee Clerk who clearly kept us on track and Parliament Administration which is quite important. Some of these reports never see the light of day because of certain incapacities, but we were well capacitated.
Madam Speaker Ma’am, the issue of the ZINARA report, to talk about Univern, we often attack our Black businessmen for being cartels which have captured the State, but we forget that while we are the majority in this country, the minority who are the Whites have more wealth than us. So how can they make wealth in a country where the majority are Black and the leaders are Black, yet the majority are poor? I want to expose the White cartels of this country who have amassed wealth through the highest level of corruption. In amassing wealth through the highest level of corruption, they have created systems parallel to Government to ensure that they are where they are.
In a country which has been liberated for 41 years, why should we still believe that a White person is the best to do business, not that I am being discriminatory, no. I am saying that our past must certainly be seen in the picture, in blacks being empowered. Are we saying to date, we have no company in this country which can do what Univern did? Who is Univern, it is important for people to know who Univern is, Serge Levy, son of Sam Levy? The same way that there was controversy in Sam Levy being acquired in the days, now we have Serge Levy controlling the infrastructure of the roads. Not only that, they are untouched in many ways. The report clearly leads to criminal corrupt practices, yet the system remains quiet. How can a system remain quiet on things which are so obvious, on issues which are not what was agreed but they still see the light of day.
The graders that we talk about were graders which cannot work in this country. In so doing, we now have this situation where we are behind in terms of road rehabilitation because of corrupt and criminal tendencies. We must also look at the manner in which this was conducted. The report talks about the Mutare-Plumtree road which was funded by DBSA, which the Chairman in his report said was a good arrangement.
The Chairman was right that at the time that report was done it was a good arrangement, but today that road is the worst, after money was loaned and the company Group Five has gone into liquidation. As the Hon. Minister of Transport and Infrastructural Development alluded to in this House, they were now investigating to see how best they could recover. So tax payers’ money went into fixing the Mutare-Plumtree Road assuming that it was done properly, now it is in a mess. These are the PPPs that we are talking about and funded by the DB of South Africa. It is highly unlikely that the Group Five Company will find its way up. The tendency to push for bankruptcy when the company has failed to deliver is a big issue.
Group Five is a well known company for infrastructure coming from South Africa doing the work here. In doing the work here, what has happened to the indigenisation and empowerment initiatives of this country where the foreigners coming in this country must partner with the natives of this country. We do not see that happening and the disturbing part of this is that our Government seems to be obsessed with working with whites than blacks. They think that when they see a white man, they do not have to do any due diligence. Where was the due diligence in this? They are so excited about seeing whites that they think that because he is a white man he must be given a business deal but how many of our black companies have engineers born and educated in this country who are working all over the world but still they are not able to get business in this country but due diligence is never done because it is a white face.
Some of the people realise for you to get a good business deal in Zimbabwe, put a white face and Government will give you a deal. The due diligence is not done. We have a situation where these cartels of white people are well connected and control the entire security system. They are able to get sympathy from the Central Intelligence Organisation, Army and the Police. So how do you then zero in on them to be able to account for whatever it is? This is evidence that the roads were not done properly. Should it always wait for Parliament to move in to correct a situation? What are all these institutions doing? Parliament can only do so much.
Equally, you have a situation where the Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Transport and Infrastructure was supposed to look into this but they cannot look into this because they have probably been told because of certain heavy weights involved, they cannot touch it. So this corruption permeates through even Parliamentary Committees where they can bring this. This report was supposed to have been long exposed by the Portfolio Committee on Transport and Infrastructure in its mandate of oversight on this. It did not do the job. Why did it not do the job? This is the white cartel system that I am talking about that it has even permeated through Parliament where a Portfolio Committee put it on the side. Is it not a shame that this happened while they were watching.
So what is the role of Parliament in oversight? When we talk about Portfolio Committees, they are the engine rooms of Parliament. This is where they have as much time to interrogate this so that we can understand what is happening at the end of the day. I would want to know Madam Speaker and the Portfolio Committee on Transport and Infrastructure must respond to why they did not hold this ZINARA accountable because ZINARA falls under them. Waiting for this report to be here, the horses have bolted. The President’s clarion call is zero tolerance on corruption. What are we doing to arrest corruption? What are the Portfolio Committees doing to arrest corruption?
A lot of money has gone in and wasted but still we have people who are busy watching those who are corrupt. You supply the wrong equipment. If the equipment that you tendered for or you were told to supply is not that equipment, why would the company receive equipment which was not on the contract? If that is the case, you re-tender. So now the equipment which was supposed to be supplied was not supplied and we still have it, for what? What is the point of being so strict on specifics of equipment? They could as well just have brought in any equipment.
Who is watching the CMED which is a Government department which accepted this equipment? We have many institutions. Like Hon. Nduna said, Government is seized with every structure. It has engineers which it could have asked to go and look at it. Before this equipment even landed in this country, who went to inspect this equipment to see if it was conducive for the environment in Zimbabwe? No one did that. We want to know who was supposed to go and inspect this equipment before it was delivered to Zimbabwe. What does it take? An allowance and a ticket with a few engineers, you go back, I guess wasting tax payers’ money going to and from when we are doing these wrong things and yet we are empowered to do everything that we can.
We need to really go into this in detail. Hon. Nduna alluded to the point of snow graders which he calls snow ploughs, I call them snow graders because they came here to grade roads. So they came to do what in this country? We now hear that the Minister who was involved was the former Minister of Finance as well as Local Government, Cde Ignatius Chombo. Why do we not get these people to account for what they did when they were in office? Why do they get away with murder? All this is leading to these people.
ZINARA, like the Chairman said, overpaid $1,2 million. The forensic report is there. Madam Speaker, if we are to be taken seriously, those forensic reports are from the Auditor-General’s office which is an Act of Parliament which is responsible for ensuring that public funds are used correctly. When the Auditor-General’s office speaks and points to something, why should we be invited to do our work? If the report exposes anybody who has been criminal, do we have to really have dogs which we then say sa-a go and bite? Is this how we should be running this country Madam Speaker where dogs can only bite when you go sa-a? We have human beings who have roles and functions to play.
So this $1,2 million which was overpaid and the report is there, why is ZACC and ZRP waiting for us to report? Why do they not do their job, take it up and investigate? Tell them those conditions do not change will-nilly but you have a situation where an agreement has been signed, terms and conditions are not looked into willy-nilly and all those things happen. I want this House to listen to this, if you have caught a thief, why do you still entrust him to be in that office? Why is Government so confident to give this very same white company a contract for tollgates? I demand that it must be cancelled because they are criminals. Why do we continue with them? Why has this Government signed another contract for tollgates? Why has this Government signed another contract for number plates? Who is authorising this when the forensic audit is very clear that you are dealing with criminals? Who is eating, who has a percentage here? Who ignores that this company Univern is involved in corrupt tendencies by the Auditor General’s report?
The Auditor General’s report does not come from my desk, neither does it come from your desk. It is an office which clearly represents this country in terms of expenditure of tax payers money. So who really authorised these agreements again? They plunder tax payer’s money; empower them to keep plundering more. They failed to deliver and meet the conditions of this contract. These are companies which must be black listed. It must never be seen to be doing business with the Government of Zimbabwe. That is why I am talking about cartels. These are the white cartels which are there. Despite them being reported negatively they still have the courage. They take our Government lightly; they seem to think that they have captured everyone.
Madam Speaker, Hon. Members; it is about time that this Parliament shows its power that you cannot capture this Parliament. This is the last line of accountability for the people of Zimbabwe and as a result we shall be asking the Minister to cancel these agreements. It is automatic unless he is also part of it but knowing him and he is new, he has got to do away with this company because it will destroy his job.
Those who were eating, there must be a time where they stop eating tax payers money and we get them to account at the end of the day. Where is the board for oversight? Where were the Ministers when these agreements were being done to have a luxury lifestyle? Were the Ministers sitting on duty? Where was the Permanent Secretary who is the chief accounting officer?
May we channel some of the money to Chikurubi Prison so that there is a VVIP section? Those who are in Chikurubi prison are not supposed to be there. The real ones who are supposed to be there are hiding. When we talk about oversight, who appoints the board? It is the Minister but when the board goes wrong, you go for the Minister. This is where you charge a Minister for negligence, for sleeping on duty. The Permanent Secretary who is the chief accounting officer; all these ministries have the legal section; they have got the financial section. Where is the financial section in its role of oversight on giving the Minister the right direction?
The Attorney General office, do we have one? His role is to be able to scrutinise Government contracts, to see that there have been complied with. How then does the country move forward? Right now, you are talking about 400 million dollars which is being put into roads yet these roads programme did not start now. It is a continuation of a programme which was already started but it is a national disaster which must be pronounced in the corruption of this country. Corruption must be a national disaster. This is as a result of corruption and we have allowed it to continue and now people are dying on the roads because the roads are not good. Every day we are talking about roads in this country yet so much money was spent when ZINARA was generating money and all that.
May we, moving forward, empower our people first? The founding principles of this country and those of the struggle was black emancipation – blacks must be rich. We must be proud of billionaires who are black. Our forefathers were moved to Gokwe, all over where it was supposed to be wealth but today we seem to have forgotten how the struggle came about and what the founding principles of the struggle were.
It is disappointing even with today’s generation. Are we going to have answers ready for them when they approach some of us to say, but you allowed this to happen. We must not take this lightly. The country right now is suffering from unemployment, the welfare of the health sector, where we have children who are 70 in a class, where Ministers now cannot give proper answers but they have to somehow. Credit must be given to our Ministers in that they have mastered the art of responding to questions. I did not say lying, they have mastered the art of responding; dzave nhinhi. You ask the Minister how far are you with this – the Minister replies and says, ‘funds permitting…’ When funds are available, they are channeled to where prices are inflated for transactions and all that.
So Madam Speaker, the Portfolio Committee on Transport and Infrastructural Development must be questioned as to why they were sleeping on duty. I might differ from time to time with my colleague brother Hon. Nduna but when he was the Chairperson for the Committee; he pushed, whether it was in his direction or not but there was vibrancy.
I want to talk about the vibrancy which was in the Committee. Today in some of these committees we might as well create coffins for them to say, rest in peace. Clearly, there is nothing that is going on; they are as good as dead. We have the capacity of Hon. Moyo here who when he speaks you see that there is a vision. May political parties stop appointing people on partisan lines even within their parties and appoint people on capacity.
We have my dear sister Hon. Mavetere who is also full of capacity, within you Madam Speaker, while some of us were not sure but today we are proud of you because we have seen you share that –[HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear.] – I must say this from my heart – that today I can clearly say that we have a woman in power. We have a woman who is able to even put things across in their perspectives and so forth, which really means that if all Portfolio Committees have women as Chairpersons, there would be no corruption and criminals in this country.
Power must go to women who fear going to prison. Men do not fear going to prison and no wonder why you see the ratio of people in prisons largely being men and not women. So may we really entrust women who for nine months are with us, who remained family orientated and focused. Imagine if they were given Portfolio Committees to run, how successful they would be. We need to now have a culture of people who have capacity, transparent, people who can account and people who can put the country first in their discharge of duty.
Madam Speaker, may your administration ensure that we hold the Ministers accountable to why they gave Univern a contract for tollgates and number plates when this report clearly points to them that they are corrupt and not fit to do business with Government. Such a company must be black listed. There are black companies who can do a better job at the end of the day, may they be empowered the same way the whites are.
There are more white cartels in this country who are quiet. We attack the black cartels and so forth. Allow the black people to enjoy the gains of the struggle and let us celebrate billionaires who are black, the Strive Masiyiwas, the Kuda Tagwireis, the Phillip Chiyangwas and so forth. This is what it must be about. May we also see Members of Parliament becoming millionaires by you tendering and getting this and getting partners who have capacity. Thank you very much Madam Speaker. I thank you for giving me the time.
Editor: To help you understand what Mliswa was talking about, we are serializing the Public Accounts Committee report on the ZINRA audit for 2017 and 2018