April 7, 2004

Inquiry to probe Mnangagwa

Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe's heir apparent Emmerson Mnangagwa will once again come under the spotlight during an internal corruption probe within the ruling Zanu PF. Mnangagwa, currently speaker of parliament and the ruling party's administration secretary, is expected to be the centre of attention in the investigation as he wielded huge influence over Zanu PF's business empire. This comes as the Mugabe succession battle is steadily intensifying. The party's decision-making politburo last week appointed a committee chaired by finance secretary David Karimanzira to investigate its businesses amid allegations of entrenched graft. The committee also included retired army commander, Gen Solomon Mujuru, former finance minister Simba Makoni, Matabeleland North governor Obert Mpofu and party deputy transport secretary Thoko Mathuthu. The composition of the committee has raised eyebrows within Zanu PF, with insiders saying it was targeted at Mnangagwa whom Mugabe now apparently wants to eliminate from the succession struggle.

Mnangagwa has recently been beset by corruption allegations. He was implicated in an illicit gold fraud in which he allegedly received Z$16m from an "unscrupulous" dealer who is currently in court for allegedly violating the Gold Trade Act. The state accused Mnangagwa of being part of a network of illegal gold dealers wreaking havoc in the country through panning and trading activities. The charges were seen as a major blow to Mnangagwa's chances of succeeding Mugabe. Zanu PF spokesman Nathan Shamuyarira has said Mugabe would announce his future plans at the party congress in December, which he described as "a defining moment" for Zimbabwe. He said there would be "infighting" among Zanu PF leaders after Mugabe's departure. Shamuyarira said Nkomo and Mnangagwa were clear frontrunners in the succession race. (Business Day, Johannesburg)

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