By Maynard Manyowa
A pattern has emerged in Zimbabwe’s political landscape. It starts with accusations of corruption – officials are fired – and it descends into a public brawl.
This past week, Acie Lumumba was fired from the Youth Steering Committee by Minister of Youth Empowerment, Patrick Zhuwao.
In supposed retaliation, Lumumba released a 4-minute video on Facebook, accusing Minister Zhuwao of demanding shares from companies in exchange for protection fees, of employing his undocumented mistresses as officials, bullying and intimidating companies, abusing the name of Robert Mugabe, among a litany of other things.
The Steering Committee itself is a controversial parallel government structure whose only purpose is probably to loot, and Zhuwao is a man of questionable aptitudes. But that is a matter for another day.
I am certain that Lumumba, a man who would rank very highly on the corruption index himself, is more concerned about losing his piece of the pie and the consequences thereafter than the integrity of the Minister nor his corrupt tendencies. It’s a typical case of a pot calling the kettle black.
Acie Lumumba has a questionable relationship with the truth, and long drawn out history of corruption, lying, and bullying.
I travelled to Zimbabwe two years ago, in 2014, and met up with Francis Nhema, who was by then Minister of Youth Empowerment to discuss ways of promoting the brand Zimbabwe. It was there where I made useful contacts in the department.
I later learnt that Surrey, a white owned chicken and eggs giant in Zimbabwe had agreed to meet its indigenization and youth empowerment mandate through its corporate social responsibility department.
The company had struck a deal with the department of youth in Marondera to finance youth education and development activities.
The firm provided finance, cattle and skilled Labour for seminars where youths were trained on cattle fattening procedures.
It was hailed as a landmark deal, which would set precedence on how white owned businesses would work together and comply with Indigenisation and empowerment initiatives in the country.
Ace Lumumba was by then heavily involved with the Zimbabwe Youth Council and the Ministry of Youth. Armed with this precedent, he approached Texas Meats to negotiate the same deal for youths in Harare.
Shortly afterwards, Francis Nhema was fired as Minister and replaced. Lumumba remained, without Minister Nhema’s sober and restrained boundaries he re-negotiated the Texas meats deal.
Instead of contributing cattle and Labour, the company was reported to have contributed $300, 000 USD. As part of the deal, the company was forced to share their business secrets with Ace Lumumba and his entrouge.
The money they paid was diverted and used by Lumumba to set-up his line of butcheries called Meatbox in Epworth, Harare; which is not only now threatening to drive Texas (which employs thousands) out of business, but was financed by money meant for youth development activities.
In 2012, when Savior Kasukuwere was Minister of Youth, he tasked Lumumba to mobilise funds for youth projects and initiatives in Harare.
A contact of mine revealed how Lumumba collected $40,000 from a local publishing firm, and again diverted the money to personal use. The bulk of it was used to purchase the Mercedes Benz AMG that Lumumba drives till today.
There are as many as 2 dozen similar instances where Lumumba racked up thousands of dollars in the name of youth funds, and channeled the monies to personal usage.
The irony is that though he may be right in saying Zhuwao is corrupt, Lumumba himself is just as bad, not only that he probably is a man of more questionable integrity.
Ace Lumumba first rose to prominence during the period of the government of national unity, around 2009- 2010 when he lived in Zambia and ended up advising the then President, Rupiah Banda on youth empowerment activities.
The reason Lumumba got the job then in Zambia was because he misrepresented to the Zambian President that he had a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science and a Master’s in Public Administration and Governance, which he claimed to have attained at Harvard University.
Lumumba also claimed to be a direct descendant of the great Congolese leader, Patrice Lumumba who was assassinated.
For some reason the Zambian intelligence services never bothered to check on these claims. Neither did their feared Zimbabwean counterparts either, as Saviour Kasukuwere, head hunted Lumumba and installed him into Zanu PF.
The honeymoon did not last long. Internet news agencies picked up the inconsistencies in Lumumba’s biography and Ace Lumumba was left egg faced after Harvard University denied he had ever been enrolled for any degree program. His claims of a relation to Patrice Lumumba were also found to be false.
I happened to be in South Africa, in April, 2015, when the country was rocked by Xenophobic attacks. On a Zanu PF ticket, Lumumba travelled to Pretoria, where he joined forces with the African National Congress Youth League (ANCYL) which was staging anti-Xenophobia marches in the country.
I didn’t attend the event, but watched news coverage of the march from the lobby of the hotel I was staying at the time and I was shocked when he introduced himself as an Honorable Member of Parliament for Zanu PF. Again, an obvious misrepresentation.
Given that Zimbabwean politicians have been fooled into believing there was diesel oozing out of rocks, it is no surprise Ace Lumumba fooled them with fake degree claims, fake claims of a relation to Patrice Lumumba, and looted funds monumentally.
His claims of corruption may well turn out to be true, but Lumumba deserves no sympathy and he is not a reformed politician. He is a crook, but more significantly a habitual liar who we must assume is lying every time we see his lips moving.
- Maynard Manyowa is a political analyst and the editor of Khuluma Afrika – a nonpartisan think tank and center for investigative journalism.
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