EDITORIAL COMMENT: Government must deal decisively with people frustrating investors

The Chronicle

President Mnangagwa has threatened to crack the whip on Government officials frustrating investors by sitting on their papers in a bid to get bribes. 

Officially commissioning Varun Beverages’ three production lines in Harare last week, President Mnangagwa said there are Government workers sitting on investors’ papers in a bid to get bribes. “There are people in Government who are stalling some projects, including those from India,” said President Mnangagwa. 

He said he has a list of those projects. “I direct whoever is sitting on those projects to move these projects or you will be moved,” said President Mnangagwa. 

Former South African power utility Eskom chief executive officer Engineer Koko Matshela who was recently awarded a licence for a US$250 million 100MW solar project in Gwanda, Matabeleland South, said his deal is being frustrated by officials who are pressing for a bribe.

Reacting to a post by Secretary for Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services, Mr Nick Mangwana quoting President Mnangagwa condemning corruption, Mr Matshela said he was also a victim. 

“Matshela Energy received a generation licence in July 2019. Six months later, nothing has happened. Our plan was to break ground in August 2019. So many people have tried to extort money from me and I refused, it is a shame,” said Eng Matshela. 

He posted a conversation with a named Zimbabwean who told him in WhatsApp conversations that he could assist him in getting “strong” local partners. 

When asked by Eng Matshela if he was the strong partner, he replied: “We can assist. OK sir, we are here to assist if you need help. We know you are stuck at Zera” (Zimbabwe Energy Regulatory Authority). 

Zimbabwe has declared that it is open for business and can therefore not afford to frustrate investors. The individuals that are sitting on projects in order to be paid bribes must not only be exposed but must be punished severely in order to send a clear message that the country does not tolerate corruption. 

Eng Matshela’s allegations must be investigated thoroughly and if found to be true individuals involved must be brought to book. We want at this juncture to implore Energy and Power Development Minister Fortune Chasi to order investigations into Eng Matshela’s allegations. 

Government has declared war on corruption but what is disturbing is that this has not been deterrent enough as evidenced by increasing cases of individuals demanding bribes. What is however encouraging is that President Mnangagwa has said he now has a  list of projects Government workers are sitting on in a bid to get bribes. 

Action should be taken immediately against these individuals who are frustrating investors for their personal gain.  Corruption must be nipped in the bud by prosecuting such individuals in order to rid the country of economic saboteurs.