In a series of tweets on January 7, 2019, former Information Minister Professor Jonathan Moyo (@profjnmoyo) laid into Econet founder Strive Masiyiwa, accusing him of exaggerating his human rights record and bankrolling Zanu PF campaigns. Here are the tweets in long form for easy reading:
THE self-righteous outburst by Strive Masiyiwa, supported by his fellow bible-quoting juntapreneurs, in response to a polite and genuine concern by Dewa Mavhinga, reveals he holds himself as an untouchable who is beyond criticism. Yet his closet is full of despicable skeletons!
Masiyiwa has escaped scrutiny, thanks to Zimbabwe’s flawed public discourse which has never been about facts, truth or ideas but about “good guys” versus “bad guys”; presumed to be such by definition, not by deed. So Zimbabwe, sadly, has no culture of truth-telling!
When Strive Masiyiwa was caught with his pants down after defending his wife Tsitsi’s indefensible outburst smearing some human rights groups, he responded with an outburst smearing Dewa Mavhinga, labelling him a bad guy and inciting his employer, Human Rights Watch, to fire him, while posturing as Mr Good Guy!
Taking himself to be “the good guy of them all” and presuming his critics to be bad guys, Strive Masiyiwa went berserk. For calling him out on his uncouth attack on Dewa Mavhinga, he smeared me with false and defamatory allegations, laced with epithets best handled by lawyers!
The issue about Strive Masiyiwa, as it is about anyone else, is not whether he’s a good or bad guy but whether his deeds match his self-righteous claims. Is he the champion of human rights and democracy, that he claims to be? If he is, does that make him a God above criticism?
For the avoidance of doubt, it must be acknowledged upfront that Strive Masiyiwa has supported worthy philanthropic initiatives in and outside Zimbabwe for the benefit of society. This commendable support should be appreciated in its own right, as an inherently good thing.
But all things considered, Strive Masiyiwa is a bundle of falsehoods: he lies about his feats & failures of others, with reckless abandon. He lies that Econet is the biggest employer in Zimbabwe when government is. Small businesses are also employing more & well, as a sector!
Strive Masiyiwa’s biggest lie is his claim that he’s a champion of human rights & democracy. There’s no known or respected institution in Zimbabwe dedicated to the promotion of human rights & democracy in the country created by or from Masiyiwa’s philanthropy. None!
Strive Masiyiwa owned the Daily News, as a political investment to massage his political ambitions and not to promote democracy with a free and professional press. Edited by the ever-reckless Geoff Nyarota, Masiyiwa’s Daily News distinguished itself by publishing falsehoods.
The difference between Masiyiwa’s Daily News run down by Nyarota and today’s Daily News is like that of day and night. The former was a political pamphlet and the latter is a newspaper. But this is a story for another time. Suffice to say Masiyiwa is an enemy of press freedom.
Over the years, Masiyiwa and his fellow juntapreneurs have conflated the fight for democracy and human rights with their personal fights against former President Robert Mugabe. For them, to be anti-Mugabe became synonymous with being a champion of human rights and democracy.
Masiyiwa’s fight with Mugabe did not originate from any concerns he had about lack of democracy and human rights in Zimbabwe but hail from a contractual dispute over a shoddy job that Masiyiwa’s Retrofit company did at the former President’s rural home in Zvimba.
Recently, Masiyiwa declared that Mnangagwa is “sincere”, signalling his support for the Harare junta. He capped this by calling for the removal of sanctions imposed by the United States on Zimbabwe. Masiyiwa is fully entitled to his views, as is anyone else. But his views invite public questions.
When Masiyiwa says Mnangagwa is sincere, is he himself sincere? And when he calls for the removal of sanctions, having been party to their imposition in 2001, is he sincere that their targeted objectives for democracy and human rights in Zimbabwe have been achieved?
Parenthetically, and given his loud claims that he has supported the MDC in his self-proclaimed quest for democracy and human rights in Zimbabwe, which party did Masiyiwa support in the July 2018 elections? What explains his loud silence on the army atrocities of August 1, 2018?
When and how did Masiyiwa start working with Mnangagwa to know he is “sincere”? Is it from their Zambian days? Or their IBDC days? Or their 2008 run-off election days? Or their 2013 election days or their 2018 election days? Or is it all these days plus some more in between?
As Mugabe’s right-hand man until the 2017 coup, Mnangagwa abused his closeness to Mugabe to groom a cohort of political and business cronies for his ambitions. He went about this in a tribal, regional and Zambian way. A key product of this group is Masiyiwa.
It’s not by accident that Econet was created by some up and coming businessmen around Mnangagwa, including Masiyiwa who later was alleged to have cheated the others out. While Masiyiwa has supported the MDC, his horse has always been a Mnangagwa-led Zanu PF faction!
That Strive Masiyiwa did not support the MDC’s 2018 election campaign and that, after the stolen election he said Mnangagwa is “sincere” testify to his longstanding support for Mnangagwa. In 2008, Masiyiwa gave Zanu PF US$45 million to purchase grain used in the army-run run-off poll.
On the back of the 2008 run-off grain scheme, in 2013 Masiyiwa’s Econet joined Mbada Diamonds to give Zanu PF some US$60 million to fund the organisation and conduct of the 2013 elections, outside treasury then run by Tendai Biti. Mnangagwa and Chinamasa were the instrumental hands.
In 2015, Masiyiwa’s schemed with Patrick Chinamasa, then a staunch Mnangagwa ally, to get US$30 million from Econet to pay salaries for civil servants through a dubious arrangement, whose backdrop was the longstanding relationship between Masiyiwa and Mnangagwa.
There are many undercover dealings involving Masiyiwa and Mnangagwa’s army faction since 2008. A damning CIO report on Econet saw the company almost get its license withdrawn only to be saved by monetary authorities, who cited many cases of Masiyiwa’s cooperation with Zanu PF.
Masiyiwa claims to be a champion of press freedom and supports this with reference to his ownership of the Daily News. But his relationship with the press is terribly bad. In 2015, his Econet connived with the police to raid and ransack the offices of The Source news agency, where they seized computers.
As a bondnote billionaire, Masiyiwa fancies himself as a big fish. But he’s in a small pond. Hard currency millionaires in bigger ponds with lots of big fish don’t behave like him. It’s time the other founders of Econet got the justice they have been long denied.