Home » Governance » The Mujuru and Kaukonde Axis Unpacked [column]

AFTER 34 years of post-colonial experience, the relationship between state and non-state business actors remains a tense and complicated one. I was listening this morning to an interview of President Mugabe in 1976 in which he was asked to add his voice on what kind of post-colonial state he wanted to see, he was emphatic in his response that he wanted to see a society built on socialist principles (https:www.youtube.comwatch?v=QnGaSbA0aIkampapp=desktop).

The views he expressed then about the role of the state and its actors in building a post-colonial non-racist society appear to inform the allegations against the role played by Hon. Ray Kaukonde in undermining the values, principles, ideas, policies and programs of Zanu PF. Although Kaukonde is one of 9 Zanu PF Provincial Chairmen who were suspended prior to the congress but remain members of the party, he has taken the centre stage as the driving financial force behind the alleged attempt to unseat President Mugabe.

Kaukonde occupies a unique position in a party whose origin is deeply steeped in a leftwing and socialist ideology in that he is reputed to be wealthy and, therefore, a man of means. It has been alleged that the relationship between the former Vice President Mujuru and Kaukonde can be characterized as “generally corrupt”, principally because it is alleged that a linear and causal relationship existed between his business success and the access to power he allegedly enjoyed with the Mujuru family.

It is further alleged that the former VP is a business partner of Kaukonde by Mr. Zhuwao whose role in the so-called Mazoe Crush movement is not clear except what can be gleaned from his weekly opinion and analysis articles that are published by the state-controlled Sunday Mail. Prior to the congress and on 23 November 2014, Zhuwao called for the expulsion from the party of what he described as “bad leaders.”

He made the point that the future of the party was being threatened by the alleged existence of what he termed a Speculative Political Entrepreneur (“SPE”). Although he did not specifically mention the names of Mujuru and Kaukonde, it is clear that the identified second SPE is Kaukonde who is alleged to have emerged as a business actor in the mid-2000s.

Zhuwao made the allegation that Kaukonde had abused access to Mujuru who in turn is alleged to have bullied the business community on a predatory basis paving the way for Kaukonde to harvest the leads in his acquisition trail. One would naturally have expected Zhuwao to provide more details regarding how the alleged bullying took place and the nameless and faceless victims.

It is not clear as to what authority Zhuwao relied upon to make these serious allegations. But it is clear that Zhuwao has no defined relationship with the government of Zimbabwe. At the material time when the said article was written, he was a member of the Politburo of Zanu PF. If the allegations have any merit, it would appear that such allegations could only be relevant in respect of Hon. Mujuru’s relationship with the government of Zimbabwe.

That relationship is governed in terms of the Constitution and her boss was the President yet in this unusual case, it would appear that members of the party have jurisdiction to regulate the conduct of state actors. Zhuwao identifies himself as the Chairman of the Zhuwao Institute, an economics, development and research think tank that reportedly focuses on integrating socio-political dimensions into business and economics decision making. He is a holder of two undergraduate degrees and three post-graduate degrees at the Masters’ level.

It is not clear as to the relationship between the Zhuwao Institute and Zanu PF. However, a reading of the articles that he has authored leaves one with the inescapable conclusion that the positions and statements he makes have little to do with the affairs of the Institute but with the politics of Zanu PF. Although he is not the spokesman of Zanu PF, he makes authoritative statements ostensibly on behalf of the party.

However, with respect to the allegations related to the content and context of the relationship between Hon. Mujuru and Kaukonde, Zhuwao states as true and fact that Kaukonde did benefit from bullying unnamed business actors. No explanation is provided regarding why the bullied actors would choose to report the alleged extortion to party officers and not to the relevant state authorities. It is also not clear as to why Zhuwao would be in possession of facts and circumstances of the activities of state actors when clearly he holds no state position that would permit him to have access to this kind of information.

It is reported that a link exists between Kaukonde’s alleged acquisitions and the facilitation by Hon. Mujuru. In particular, it is the contention of Zhuwao that in truth and fact, Hon. Mujuru has abused state power to benefit Kaukonde. Notwithstanding, a search on the internet confirms no such extortion and on the contrary, it was reported in an article published on 27 January 2014 by the Daily News that Kaukonde upped his shareholding in Innscor to 9.23% from 2.04% as part of the approved indigenisation plan.

At the material time, Hon. Kasukuwere was the Minister responsible for administering the indigenization law. It is remarkable that in January 2014 it was perfectly fine to do business with Kaukonde yet it has been alleged that the plot to unseat President Mugabe was hatched in 2006 raising the question why Hon. Kasukuwere a prominent member of the Mazoe Crush movement would sanction the participation of Kaukonde in the Innscor indigenisation plan.

It is also worth noting that contrary to the allegations, the deal was not approved by the former VP. This is what the then CEO of Innscor had to say about Kaukonde’s relationship with the company: “Ray has been with us for the past 10-12 years and has contributed tremendously to the group.”

It was reported in the said article that Kaukonde, who at one time was Innscor chairperson, sold his Spar Western region licence and his two flagship stores, Brooke and Joina Spar to the group during the previous year. It was also reported that Kaukonde also sold his stake in agro-foods processor, National Foods, to Innscor in exchange for shares in the group.

Based on the above, it would appear that the deals between Kaukonde and Innscor were on arms-length basis. Innscor is a listed company on the Stock Exchange and NSSA is also a major shareholder of the company. It is not clear where Zhuwao obtained the information of extortion which information evidently was not reported to the ZSE.

The allegations made by Zhuwao that were repeated by both the First Lady and President Mugabe as fact would appear to have escaped the attention and knowledge of Innscor, the affected party. According to Zhuwao, Kaukonde also attracted the attention of white monopoly capital. He fails to disclose what he means by white monopoly capital. However, the term “white monopoly capital” has been used extensively by the Economic Freedom Fighters (“EFF”) but there appears to be no universally understood definition of what the term means.

A company is after all a juristic person that is separate and distinct from the holders of its securities. One should like to think that all companies operating in Zimbabwe are registered in terms of the laws of the country. In addition, any allegation of monopoly should and ought to be referred to the Competition Commission. However, the mandate of the Commission is to regulate unfair trading practices. With respect to monopoly capital to the extent that after 34 years of independence and black rule, it is not clear how one can arrive at the conclusion that racisms has been allowed to raise its ugly head in the capital markets.

Zhuwao makes another astounding allegation that the so-called white monopoly capital sought, with the assistance of Kaukonde, to derail and destabilize the indigenisation program yet the Innscor plan was approved by Hon. Kasukuwere. Zhuwao does not explain how the approved Innscor plan could conceivably be construed as derailing and destabilizing the indigenisation program. Zhuwao makes no case that Hon. Kasukuwere should be charged for derailing and destabilizing the indigenisation program by approving the Innscor plan.

If there was any doubt as to who Zhuwao was referring to as “white monopoly capital” the following statement reveals it: “During an era where we should have seen indigenous business grow, we saw white monopoly capital strengthening its grip on the retail and food sectors with the assistance of Kaukonde.”

So it is Innscor after all that is referred to as white monopoly capital. Innscor is a publicly traded company whose heritage is as Zimbabwean as Zhuwao. The founders are Zimbabwean born and the company was born after independence and, therefore, has no relationship with the colonial order. The founders are the most hardworking and enterprising Zimbabweans that have managed to fly the Zimbabwean flag high. Instead of congratulating Kaukonde for adding value to the frontiers of corporate non-racialism, it is Zhuwao’s view that this threatens the indigenisation program.

It is also alleged that Kaukonde has interests in the diamond industry and also that he participated in the hijacking of diamonds. Again no concrete facts are provided to confirm this to be the case. To the extent that Hon. Mujuru is implicated in the affairs of Kaukonde, one would have expected Zhuwao to support his allegations with facts. Regrettably, this is not the case. Zhuwao defines Kaukonde as a commercial and business-oriented individual who seeks to abuse access to political influence for personal and individual commercial and business benefits irrespective of the political andor ideological damage that they inflict.

At the very minimum, one would expect Zhuwao to back his wild allegations with facts. In the case of Innscor, there is no suggestion from the company that there was no exchange of value between Innscor and Kaukonde. With respect to the alleged ideological and political damage resulting from the involvement of Kaukonde in the affairs of the enterprises he is associated with, it is not explained in what context prejudice would and has been inflicted on Zanu PF’s ideology and politics.

The party’s ideology, if regard is had to what Hon. Chinamasa and Hon. Mnangagwa have been saying, it would appear that Zhuwao is out of touch with where the party would want the country to be heading. He then states that Kaukonde is bankrupt, and devoid of ethics, morality and decency as if he is fountain of morality. Although the name of Hon. Mujuru has loomed large in relation to her role in the affairs of Innscor, the company’s position seems to contradict the allegations that Hon. Mujuru bullied the company.

The above would lead any rational observer to question the bona fides of the Zhuwao Institute. As part of the investigations of the allegations against the fired members of Zanu PF, one would expect that the standing of the Zhuwao Institute be investigated as well.

Source : New Zimbabwe