Illustrative image | Sources: Zimbabwe's president Emmerson Mnangagwa | Former Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe. (Photos: Getty Images / Waldo Swiegers / Cynthia R Matonhodze / EPA-EFE/AARON UFUMELI)
The report, which was released exclusively on the Daily Maverick website and implicates President Emmerson Mnangawa, has already garnered international attention in South Africa, the UK and the US.
However, Maverick Citizen Editor Mark Heywood - who says the report is evidence-based, clinical and well-researched - sent the report to Mnangagwa and others implicated for comment. None responded.
The authors of the report are not named. But Heywood says it has been thoroughly and independently fact-checked.
In essence, it shows how the cartels are in bed with the powerful politicians and are fleecing the poorest of the poor in a country where 60% of the population live in abject poverty.
In a radio interview Zimbabwean journalist Hopewell Chin’ono says it proves that key political players were involved in the looting.
They had weakened institutions such as the central bank and the judiciary which was now being used to persecute those who expose what is happening.
“Those (cartels) with ties to the powerful, keep getting all the contracts.
“And an example of what is going on is that at our biggest hospital, there is no working maternity theatre. To fix it would cost the equivalent of a Land Cruiser. And yet the government buys hundreds of Land Cruisers every year.”
Heywood says the report focuses on business cartels because these are the vehicles used for State Capture and it is a “post mortem of the cancer that killed the Zimbabwean dream of freedom and independence”.
He says the report shows how the 2017 coup, which removed Robert Mugabe, made little difference, it just changed a few individual beneficiaries.
Heywood says the scale of the theft includes illicit cross-border financial transactions which cost the country about US$3 billion a year.
On top of this, there are also billions lost through gold and diamond smuggling.
The report includes studies on how cartels operate in the transport, agriculture, tobacco and mining sectors and notes that associated intra-country fraud could cost up to $1 billion every year.
One example in the report is how the Zimbabwe National Road Authority (Zinara), awarded a contract to a company for motorised graders worth R$8 million when other bidders have quoted $5.2 million. A year later, Zinara ordered 40 more machines, despite criticism that they were not working properly.
The report also notes that in 2018, the auditor-general reported that 82 percent of government expenditure was irregular.
It is a study of how the rich, politicians and business people, continue to get very rich off the backs of some of the poorest people in the world.
The report recommends increased external monitoring of what is going on in Zimbabwe, including the apparent lack of action by its anti-corruption commission.
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