Mugabe yesterday blasted some Government officials assigned to engage foreign companies to undertake developmental projects for inflating costs and making taxpayers bear the brunt of their corruption.The President said he disclosed to Chinese President Xi Jinping, during his State visit to Zimbabwe last week, a number of Chinese firms he had blacklisted for conniving with local officials to inflate costs of various projects.
Officially opening the 15th zanu-pf Annual National People’s Conference here yesterday, President Mugabe said while such corruption was difficult to detect, monitoring had been tightened and anyone caught would rot in jail.
“It might be you or a group of people assigned to negotiate with the other side we want to work with, be it in building a bridge or constructing roads, you then go and demand a cut before the construction is even done,” President Mugabe said.
“They say if the actual cost is $10 million, they peg it at $13 million and tell the Chinese that the project cost has risen yet the $3 million will be theirs for sharing. Ndocorruption iri kuitika kunyanya yerudzi irworwo.
President Mugabe added: “Ndakaramba dzimwe company kuna President weChina ndikati handidi, dziri corrupt. They do their things clandestinely, giving our people (money) secretly. Ndakati handidi company dzakadaro.Handimbodi!”
President Xi’s State visit saw more than 12 landmark deals worth $4 billion, over and above the ones sealed last year, being signed.
The deals cut across all the key economic enablers such as energy, infrastructure, agriculture and aviation and are set to give impetus to the Government economic blueprint, Zim-Asset.
President Mugabe said taxpayers were being made to suffer because of the dishonesty of people tasked with spearheading the deals.
Most of the deals will see concessionary loans being extended to Government by the Chinese and would be paid over a lengthy period of time.
“It’s a cost to be borne by the people,” President Mugabe said.
“It is a loan and it is the Government budget that will pay that. You are making the people pay more on the project which should cost them less and you are doing it for your own benefit. Down with you! Hatidi, patinenge tazvibatisisa chaipo, you will go to prison.”
He went on: “If you are to be the engineer of the project, do your work objectively, you will be paid for it. Do not seek to cheat. We will discover you this time. Some do it in a clever way, but we will get you.”
President Mugabe said upright people were needed as the Chinese had agreed to fund a number of projects.
“A leader should always be clean in whatever he or she does,” he said.
“We will be doing a lot of projects with a number of countries, including Chinese companies. President Xi said these projects, yes we will help you, but we can help Zimbabwe with more.
“He said you should give us projects that you think will assist you in industrialising your country. We will give them more but we want straight people, people of good conduct. We do not want thieves.”
He said the conference, which he closes today, would lay down “definite principles of conduct in cooperating with our friends.”
President Mugabe said white former commercial farmers were trooping back into the country under the guise of offering help to indigenous farmers who benefited from the land reform programme.
“The settlers from whom we took our land are coming back again cleverly because they are the ones who had money and bought agricultural equipment,” he said.
“They go and say we want to help you since you do not have tractors and they agree. There are lots of such clever farmers practically in every province.
“Hoo unorimirwa kangani? Mangwana acho anozoti chindipawo pakati and you seeing the help he would have given you, you will agree. Watotorerwa. Take care,these donkeys can be very clever.”
He said the Government policy was against the leasing of land to white commercial farmers, a situation which he said was rampant in Mashonaland East.
“We shall have audits to see what is happening,” President Mugabe said.
“Mashonaland East was the worst nana (Ray) Kaukonde. There were farmers who were being protected (when he was still chairperson of the province). Over 43 farms, yet people will be looking for land.