Monday, October 31, 2005

Mugabe pulls stings to stop plotters


ZIMBABWE’S president, Robert Mugabe, has ordered his ministers to disclose all their assets in a move aimed at blocking any plots against him as the country descends into economic collapse.

“Mugabe has files on everyone,” said a source close to the 81-year-old leader. “He encourages those around him to stick their hands in the till so the moment anyone gets cold feet about what he’s [Mugabe’s] doing and wants to quit — or starts thinking he’s a liability — he pulls out their file.”...

Some companies have been forced to make “donations” to the ruling Zanu-PF party to continue operating. Those which fail to do so are well aware of their likely fate. In the past two years seven private banks have been “specified” — closed down and their assets seized.

Mutumwa Mawere, one of Zimbabwe’s richest tycoons, had his flagship conglomerate, Shabanie Mashaba Mines, seized by presidential decree last year, along with finance and insurance companies and supermarkets.

“Mugabe is willing to downsize the whole economy just to feed the political elite, a few hundred thousand at most,” said a European diplomat. “It’s a mafia state.”

During his 25 years in power Mugabe has become extremely skilled at drawing people from all sectors into his web of patronage. Among those handed farms that had been seized were High Court judges, police chiefs, military officers and the Anglican bishop of Harare....

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