HARARE – An internet anti-corruption crusade which had Zimbabweans gripped descended into a farce on Sunday when would-be whistle-blower Gerald Mutumanje admitted he was being paid to frame Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) officials.
Four officials were suspended after Mutumanje, who had been engaged by the Finance Ministry as a communications consultant, went on Facebook Live and accused them of industrial-scale corruption.
Now Mutumanje, also known as Acie Lumumba, says it all was choreographed by Finance Minister Mthuli Ncube and Christopher Mutsvangwa, a former adviser to President Emmerson Mnangagwa.
In secret recordings leaked over the weekend, Mutumanje tells Zanu PF MP Tinoda Machakaire, a close associate of Sakunda boss Kudakwashe Tagwirei, that he desperately needed US$40,000 to send his father for treatment in India.
He needed the money, and Mutsvangwa and Ncube needed him to carry out a hatchet job against RBZ directors Norman Mataruka (bank supervision), Azvinandava Saburi (financial markets), Mirirai Chiremba (financial intelligence) and Gresham Muradzikwa (head of security).
RBZ governor John Mangudya had also been targeted for smear, but Lumumba says he spared him because the former CBZ chief had given him his first business loan.
“Do you really think RBZ directors can be suspended at my say-so?’ Lumumba asks Machakaire, as he went on to describe himself as a “tool”.
Mutumanje was making a desperate plea for Machakaire to secure him access to Tagwirei, whom he previously accused of running a fuel cartel with the facilitation of the RBZ directors.
Mutumanje wanted to apologise to Tagwirei, a man he previously described as a ‘Queen Bee’, while accusing him of “state capture”.
“They tricked me,” Mutumanje says of Mutsvangwa and Ncube. “The only reason these people got me is that they knew I was in a tough corner. My father wasn’t feeling well. I went to Chris and said why are you letting my father suffer like this when you worked together? He said we will take care of him, but there’s something I want you to do for me but because at the time I wasn’t thinking the only thing that was on my mind was to look after my father and I made commitments, I said yes I will do it without knowing what it is. Little did I know I had signed my life away, now this whole operation was about to start.
“I knew that they were planning something, but I didn’t know that I would be part of it, talking about it.”
He said when the appointment came from the Finance Ministry, he assumed he would be “communicating Finance Ministry issues”, adding: “What I didn’t know is they already had the detail, I didn’t have the detail. I knew the position, not the detail.”
Mutumanje then reveals that he received US$40,000 from Mutsvangwa through some Chinese financiers, which his father used for his treatment.
“My greatest worry with stopping or even changing narratives is whether I will be able to look after myself afterwards,” he says.
Mutumanje then proposes that Tagwirei should give him US$40,000 which he would take to Ncube as a show that he was no longer interested in doing their bidding.
Unbeknown to Mutumanje, the conversation was being recorded. It was leaked on Sunday, together with another voice note he had left for Machakaire.