Kasukuwere land scandal: The corruption Mugabe nurtured now threatens his grip on power

Malvern Mkudu, Opinion

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Last week President Mugabe confronted Saviour Kasukuwere on the scandal involving residential urban land earmarked for ZANU PF youths which was allegedly sold to Harare prophet Walter Magaya.

Most Zimbabweans have dismissed the incident as a non event pointing out that this is not the first time Mugabe has accused his officials of corruption in public and not taken action.

Mugabe once accused then chairman of the Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation Goodwills Masimirembwa of demanding bribes from investors only to later backtrack claiming he had been misled.

This is not the first time Mugabe has publicly censored Kasukuwere either. Mugabe blamed Kasukuwere for crafting a bad empowerment deal with mining giant ZimPlats but still retained the youthful minister in his next cabinet.

Mugabe knows of Kasukuwere’s corrupt tendencies from previous government portfolios he has presided over. Kasukuwere was linked to a company Brainworks which had running battles with many companies after the consultancy firm demanded consultancy fees for providing indigenisation compliance technical advice. The disputes spilled into parliament.

He left a trail of destruction as minister of Youth and Indigenisation but this did not bother Mugabe as the corrupt campaign Kasukuwere was overseeing served to entrench Mugabe’s power.

Kasukuwere was minister when thousands of youths mainly ZANU PF supporters accessed the youth fund to start small businesses. Most of these businesses failed and the majority of the beneficiaries either failed or refused to pay back the loans. Some of the beneficiaries did not qualify for the loans but accessed these loans through corruption.

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According to former Kasukuwere right hand man, Acie Lumumba, the youths did not benefit from this initiative. Addressing ZANU PF supporters at a youth conference early this year in Harare, Lumumba said that the youths had not seen the money that the government promised to them. Banks told parliament the youths that benefited failed to pay back the loans and there was a 90 % default rate.

The Youth, Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Parliamentary Portfolio Committee heard that Zanu PF Mberengwa East MP Makhosini Hlongwane benefited from a Stanbic Bank youth loan although he did not qualify. The beneficiaries of the loans were supposed to be between 21 to 35 years. Hlongwane on June 27 in 2012 when he was 38 years old got a loan of $32 380 for a bakery project.

The trouble is that Mugabe sees vote buying using urban land as a way of maintining a grip on power and preserving his legacy while on the other hand Kasukuwere sees this as a way to make a ‘quick buck’ as he does not really believe that the future of the party lies in President Mugabe. For Kasukuwere this is about making hay while the sun shines. This means the objectives of these two men place them on a collision course.

Mugabe has decided to act now after realising that he is fast running out of economic gifts to keep his patronage system working. After falling out with war veterans, Mugabe knows that the youth remain the only pillar of support sustaining his continued hold on power in the ruling party. He is under pressure from another faction within the ruling party which has challenged him to act against corruption particularly against Kasukuwere and land barons. Mugabe has previously ignored these calls.

Urban land has become the last frontier of ZANU PF’s patronage politics after the land reform and the indigenisation act distributed all prime farming land and companies to ZANU PF functionaries. At the 1 million march, ruling party youths told President Mugabe that they had not benefitted from the land reform programme. In response Mugabe said the land reform was a closed chapter but youth would get residential stands.

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youths that turned up for Mugabe’s millionman march

Kasukuwere’s corrupt ways stand in the way of this promise by Mugabe. Mugabe knows that his ambition to be life President depends on the youths as his spin doctor Professor Jonathan Moyo has predicted saying youth will be decisive in the 2018 election. Whether Mugabe will take further action against Kasukuwere remains to be seen but what is clear is that the supreme leaders legacy is now being undone by the corruption he nurtured to sustain his rule in earlier years.

Judging by the chaos that has erupted over these residential stands, it is clear that the poor youths have lost trust in Mugabe’s system to equitably and fairly distribute national resources. Mugabe knows that the loyalty of these youths is not genuine and depends on the delivery of the promised gifts of patronage.

Watch video MDC-T Eddy Cross talks about urban land corruption

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