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Will Themba Mliswa's Public Outburst Expose Zanu PF Corruption?

Zanu PF chairman for Mashonaland West province and Hurungwe West legislator torched a storm this week when he accused businessman Billy Rautenbach of corruption but some analysts believe that corruption is being used as the battlefield for the ruling party's succession debate.

Mliswa, brought his private fight with business tycoon Conrad Mmuller "Billy" Rautenbach, into the public this week, when he refuted a report in the Herald, that he tried to extort money from his former business partner.

At a press conference in Harare, Mliswa denied that he sought $165 million as payment for facilitating business meetings between top government officials and company executives, with Rautenbach, whom he called a crook.

Mliswa further accused Rautenbach of clandestinely acquiring vast tracts of land countrywide, and other businesses including the Chisumbanje ethanol project.

Studio 7 failed to reach Rautenbach or his lawyers for comment. However, the Herald quoted Rautenbach saying that Mliswa was an extortionist and he severed ties with him after realizing that.

Mliswa's lawyers reportedly wrote to demand money from Rautenbach, following the fallout.

The scandal has sucked in Presidential Affairs Minister Didmas Mutasa, Deputy Lands Minister Tendai Savanhu and former Zanu PF, chairperson for Manicaland province, Basil Nyabadza.

Studio 7 failed to reach them for comment, by airtime. Aside from refuting the extortion claims against him, Mliswa also used his press conference to address the issue of corruption.

Long believed to be in the Zanu PF faction led by Vice President Joice Mujuru, Mliswa said certain unnamed persons were blocking his efforts to expose corruption (to) parliament. The controversial former fitness trainer says he will not be silenced.

Political analyst Earnest Mudzengi says Zanu PF politicians are using corruption to blackmail each other, as the race to succeed President Robert Mugabe speeds up.

But Zanu PF chief whip, Joram Gumbo, told Studio 7 that Mliswa's
utterances lacked truth.

Despite efforts by politicians to stem corruption, economist Takunda Mugaga, tells Studio 7 that such activities are impacting economic growth, by scaring away potential investors.
Zimbabwe's civic society and most political parties have, on paper, agreed that corruption must be rooted to ensure economic development.