Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Businessmen?

For the past month or so many in Zimbabwe have followed with fascination the case of a certain Mr. Temba Mliswa.

He is one of those "businessmen" who rose to riches during the land reform / farm invasions in the early 2000 years. Currently he is in remand jail since about a month. He has been rearrested 3 times about 5 minutes after getting bail approved by the courts.

I quote from online reports:"Mliswa, who was granted bail last Friday by Harare magistrate Don Ndirowei on charges of stealing generators and defrauding the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe of US$3,5 million, was re-arrested for the third time after getting bail at the courts. Mliswa was dramatically re-arrested at Chikurubi Maximum remand prison on Friday in an operation that left even prison guards shell shocked. At least 15 heavily armed police officers in four top of the range vehicles - a BMW, a Range Rover, a Mazda B2500 and an Isuzu raided Chikurubi and snatched Mliswa soon after he was released. The vehicles sped in the direction of the city centre and family members pursuing the police convoy were threatened by plain clothes police officers from one of the vehicles."

In Zimbabwe the above is a treatment normally reserved for those perceived to be enemies of the state, such as human rights campaigners and opposition politicians, not members of Zanu PF and successful "businessmen". So what happened?

As I understand the backround Mliswa was a fitness instructor when the farm invasions and land reform started. Somehow he was awarded a farm and got rich. All has been well (for him) since then until very recently. What went wrong?

Well, calling the Police Commissioner "the most corrupt individual in the country" seems to have been a bad idea. Not long after that he was arrested on charges of trying to fraudelently take over a company. Since then a long string of crimes (about 40...) has come to light: persuading white farmers that he could protect their property he bought several huge generators. He just never paid for them... and then sold them on, one of them he claims to a certain Police Commissioner.

Among other crimes he is accused of is defrauding the Reserve Bank of millions of USD by getting grants to buy tobacco and never pay back.

The latest is attempted murder.

In a way what I find really interesting about this whole saga is not the fate of this person or the rather obvious harassment but what it tells about the background of not only his but very likely a number of other "successful businessmen". I have no idea as to why the media still refers to him as businessman actually, conman or fraudster sounds more like it. It may be that not all of the cases against him are actual but everything points to that quite a number of them are. Then the real question is of course "why is he only being arrested now"? And the answer to that I leave up to the reader to figure out.

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