By Weston Duram | In recent days, the Zimbabwean government, led by President Emmerson Mnangagwa, has been attempting to reassure the public that there is no wrongdoing involved in the renaming and restructuring of the Mutapa Investment Fund. However, a closer examination reveals a disturbing reality – the legal basis for the scheme may not even exist, raising serious questions about transparency and accountability.
The controversy revolves around Section 3 (9) of the Public Procurement and Disposal of Public Assets Act of 2017, which the government claims allows for exemptions in procurement for certain institutions, including the Mutapa Investment Fund. But here’s the startling revelation: Section 3 (9) of the mentioned Act does not exist. It appears that the government used a non-existent legal provision to create the Mutapa Investment Fund and grant it exemptions from procurement laws.
Finance, Economic Development, and Investment Promotion permanent secretary, Mr. George Guvamatanga, has been at the forefront of attempts to justify the government’s actions. He argued that the recent amendments to the Sovereign Wealth Fund of Zimbabwe (SWFZ) Act also amended the Public Procurement Act and Disposal of Public Assets Act. However, his assertion that Section 3 of the SWFZ Act already dealt with exemptions is misleading, as this specific section does not address exemptions, further fueling suspicions of irregularities.
The government’s claim that exemptions apply only to the Mutapa Investment Fund and not to other entities listed in the Statutory Instrument (SI) is another contentious point. This assertion hinges on the idea that the fund merely owns shares in these entities, without altering their legal character. However, the lack of a clear legal foundation for these actions casts doubt on the validity of these claims.
Mr. Guvamatanga’s argument that the fund must operate in competitive markets and therefore requires special treatment also raises eyebrows. It implies that market-sensitive transactions might be conducted differently, but the absence of a legal basis for such actions leaves room for skepticism.
Furthermore, while the government emphasizes the need for efficiency and transparency in the Mutapa Investment Fund, the fundamental question remains: can such assurances be trusted when the legal foundation for the entire operation appears to be shaky at best?
President Mnangagwa’s use of Presidential Powers (Temporary Measures) (Investment Laws Amendment) Regulations, 2023, to change the name of the fund adds another layer of complexity to the issue. The fund, originally established in 2014, was created from various government sources, including the proceeds of privatization and fiscal surpluses. However, the government’s determination to generate returns on its investments and contribute to the economy must be balanced with concerns about the legal legitimacy of its actions.
As the controversy surrounding the Mutapa Investment Fund continues to unfold, it raises critical questions about transparency, accountability, and the rule of law in Zimbabwe. The lack of a clear legal basis for the scheme undermines public trust and calls into question the government’s commitment to good governance. In a nation grappling with economic challenges, ensuring transparency and adherence to legal processes becomes even more crucial for the well-being of its citizens.