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'Corruption Infected All Society,' says ZANU-PF Founding Member - 2003-03-12

A veteran ruling party politician in Zimbabwe has unexpectedly criticized the country's senior officials and their friends, accusing them of corruption, which he says has infected all of society.

A founding member of the ruling ZANU-PF party, Edison Zvobgo, electrified parliament late Tuesday when he called for the urgent establishment of an anti-corruption commission.

Mr. Zvobgo, who was close to President Robert Mugabe until about five years ago, accused the ruling elite of massive corruption.

He said this class of people has built mansions which he described as obscene, and which he said cost more than the owners lawfully earned.

He said he had personal knowledge that some corrupt individuals had taken the opportunity during the recent land reform program to seize up to five formerly white owned farms each. He said this should be investigated by a well-staffed anti-corruption commission.

Recently, several local and foreign publications have published photographs of massive houses owned by top military officers. Local media have identified many leading politicians in the ruling party who are reported to have illegally seized several white-owned farms each.

Mr. Zvobgo said Zimbabwe's government institutions are inefficient and corrupt. He said their corruption has poisoned the whole society.

Unlike many senior ministers who were appointed by President Mugabe, Mr. Zvobgo was popularly elected to parliament. He was one of the few ruling party members to keep his majority intact at the last general elections in 2000.

He is known to oppose draconian security legislation which was pushed through parliament last year and is seen to be a major player in the emerging reformist wing of ZANU-PF.

Mr. Zvobgo is trusted by the opposition Movement for Democratic Change and the business community. But he has shunned joining the opposition.

Several political analysts say Mr. Zvobgo is destined to play an important role if there is any move from the present administration to a transitional authority leading to fresh elections.