Zimbabwe is run by“arrogant men” who have pillaged the country with no moral reason to remain in power, respected United States-based Zimbabwean academic Ken Mufuka has said.
In a no-holds-barred presentation at a public discussion hosted by the Southern African Political and Economic Series (Sapes) Trust on Thursday, Mufuka said Mugabe and his band of former guerrilla fighters had hoodwinked the nation that they were socialists, while they amassed wealth for themselves.
“Zimbabwe’s problems have been self-imposed by arrogant men who have learnt nothing from the past and from their neighbours,” Mufuka, a lecturer at Lander University in the US, said.
Former Cabinet minister and opposition Zimbabwe People First senior official Sylvester Nguni, who was also a discussant at the event, however, said wrong policies had ruined a strong economy at independence.
“We did not learn from what happened in Botswana and Zambia. Botswana had nothing at independence, but worked hard to exploit and invest income from diamonds. On the other hand, Zambia had a relatively good economy, but ran it to the ground,” he said.
“Having had the privilege to sit in Cabinet, I am not sure I would say these people are arrogant. I think they are innocently ignorant if there is something like that.”
Nguni said Mugabe had unquestionable power in Cabinet.
“I did not see anyone propose a different view to that of the person who chaired Cabinet (Mugabe),” he added.
With Zimbabwe reeling under the weight of a debilitating economic, social and political crisis as well as a crippling cash shortage that has seen the re-emergence of queues at banks, Mufuka argued the country was not broke.
“In any case, Zimbabwe is not broke. How can we be broke when we have gold, diamonds, platinum? We have the same minerals, if not more than what South Africa has,” he said
“And they have confessed the high and mighty that in the last 10 years, more than $15 billion of diamond proceeds has been stolen. It is not that we are a poor country; we are simply managed by foolish men.”
Mugabe early this year claimed at least $15 billion of the country’s diamond revenues had been spirited to foreign lands, but did not provide details of how.
Said Mufuka: “The common denominator in the looting of the country is that the looters have authority to write cheques. They are not stealing, but looting by people who are trustees of our money. The problem is that these looters walk proudly in Jerusalem with Peter and John, while the generality suffers. The problem is not the economy, but the dearth of moral leadership. To see only the superficial symptoms and mistake them for the disease is wrong.”
He said another problem was a legal system that seemed to protect the rich and powerful.
“Those who are highly regarded most esteemed in their circles are looting our country. But none of them have gone to jail while an ordinary villager, who steals a bull, is jailed to 10 years. The crisis is a lack of moral leadership and without a change of that leadership the economic problems will remain,” Mufuka said.