TEMBA MLISWA’s attempted rebuttal of extortion allegations levelled against him by businessman Billy Rautenbach was rather unpersuasive, at some points even comical. Far from restoring his standing pre-scandal, his attempts at explanation have only given rise to more troubling questions.
The thrust of his argument is that Rautenbach is corrupt and is exploiting national resources.
Fair charge perhaps.
The question is why Mliswa had previously said nothing about it?
He is certainly not shy, as evidenced by his recent Parliamentary insinuations that Obert Mpofu is corrupt.
Given the seriousness of the allegations he now makes against Rautenbach, one would have expected to hear him raise the issues in Parliament.
He never did.
If The Herald had not published his shameful letters — effectively demanding political protection money — would we have ever heard anything about what he now wants us to believe is a national scandal?
Whether Rautenbach is corrupt or not is neither here nor there.
The person in the dock is Mliswa and he must explain why he facilitated, as he freely admits, business transactions for an individual he believes is working against the national interest.
Why did he continue demanding payments even after he felt Rautenbach had gone rogue and improperly speculated on a platinum claim?
If speculating on that claim was wrong, why is Mliswa bitter about not receiving US$100 million as his share of the dirty profits?
Is it the case that raping the nation is tolerable as long as he gets a cut?
In any case, his claims that he was offering “consultancy” services by introducing Rautenbach to powerful politicians make nonsense of his anti-corruption pretensions.
I do not want to live in a Zimbabwe where a business idea needs the blessing of shadowy politicians to proceed.
Mliswa, by his own admission, is a cog in this corrupt system where investors must pander to the self-serving whims of political elites.
Is it not outrageous that he demands US$165 million for merely putting in a good word?
Does it follow that if Mliswa had not offered his political connections that an otherwise viable business would have never seen the light of day?
Mliswa condemns himself with his own words.
The worst part of this whole episode has been Mliswa’s desperate attempts to rope in Didymus Mutasa and other high-ranking Zanu-PF officials.
Mutasa denies any involvement.
Let us assume, for argument’s sake, that Mliswa’s claims are true.
Quite naturally, Mutasa would distance himself from what is clearly a potential scandal.
What is surprising is Mliswa’s complete lack of discretion and his readiness to drag others into the mud in an attempt to save his own skin.
If it is true that Basil Nyabadza received a house from Rautenbach how is this any less above board than the US$5000/month he (Mliswa) was receiving in protection money?
When he receives money from what he now alleges are ‘unsavoury’ whites it is somehow legitimate ‘consultancy’ but when others do the same it is bribery? Mliswa’s hypocrisy cannot go unremarked.
There is something disagreeable about people like Kereke who when they find themselves in a tight spot readily resort to dishonourable tactics. Kereke has gone to desperate lengths to discredit Dr Gideon Gono alleging, among other things, that he wrote his dissertation for him.
It very well could be true but it is rather unscrupulous to wield information gained in confidence against an opponent.
If he wrote that dissertation he did so in exchange for certain favours that he clearly got at the time.
Kereke cannot slam Gono without in effect slamming himself for violating academic integrity by undertaking another student’s work.
If Gono is scummy then Kereke is scummier because he wilfully enabled Gono’s allegedly scummy doctorate.
Mliswa is fast earning similar notoriety.
In a rambling hour-long press conference, he cautioned that we should not forget how nasty Billy Rautenbach is and went on to list a catalogue of offences including allegations of economic crimes in South Africa, sensational claims of abuse of Zimbabwean soldiers in the DRC and bizarre accusations that Rautenbach used to beat up blacks as a child.
I found the last point quite amusing.
Mliswa is resorting to the rather cheap tactic of roping in unrelated matters and race baiting to gain leverage in a dispute.
Rautenbach’s whiteness is immaterial. Let us assume Rautenbach is guilty as charged; one is left wondering why Mliswa was rendering his noble assistance to a racist man who, by Mliswa’s own account, ran mafia-type operations in the DRC and is a fugitive to the law in a number of countries.
Surely he knew all about this when they initially contracted and he evidently had no qualms about working with such a man.
His sudden moral protestations are not born of deep-seated integrity, patriotism nor an uncompromising distaste for impropriety as he would like us to believe — it is simply a case of sour grapes. If Rautenbach had paid up would Mliswa be jumping up and down, frothing at the mouth in protest?
I suspect not.
Rautenbach for his part is no saint; he’s just lucky to be dealing with a tactless opponent and it’s likely he’ll walk away from this unscathed. Something is not quite right about his allegations of extortion.
It is improbable that Mliswa just appeared out of the blue and demanded payments. He must have rendered some kind of service and it is the specific nature of that service that Rautenbach must explain as well as what necessitated the need for that service.
It’s unlikely they were brought together by a mutual enthusiasm for fitness — Mliswa’s area of expertise.
The media would be quite gullible to allow Rautenbach to simply dismiss Mliswa as an extortionist without requiring him to explain the nature of their relationship.
I suspect that Rautenbach actually did cheat Mliswa, in the sense that he reneged on their corrupt agreement by conscripting higher political powers that were willing to be bought off for much less than the ambitious fitness trainer.
Mliswa should not complain; these are precisely the fruits of corruption. He invested nothing apart from using political muscle.
Why should Rautenbach not cheat him and find a political thug stronger than Mliswa to protect his interests? Society never complains when a senior crook cheats a junior crook and Mliswa should expect no sympathy from us.
Throughout this entire conversation an important question remains unasked.
Why is it necessary to invoke political power to secure business if such business is legitimate?
One wonders how many scrupulous businessmen have failed to invest in this country after refusing to offer the likes of Mliswa a 10 percent stake in their enterprises.
It’s a despicable system.
Mliswa unashamedly refers to his coercive activities in the dignifying language of business, calling it consultancy and boasting that he does not come cheap.
It is not consultancy, but glorified corruption.
Ndatenda, ndini muchembere wenyu Amai Jukwa