MAVERICK businessman Philip Chiyangwa (pictured) says he recycled every dirty trick to get rich, including using Zanu PF politicians to leverage business deals and convincing bank managers to sign off loans worth millions of dollars without any semblance of collateral security.
The Zanu PF central committee member, who has built his wealth around housing and property development, opened up on his rise to financial prominence during an Affirmative Action Group (AAG) empowerment conference last week.
He pulled no punches in revealing that he owes his wealth to a corrupt governance system that would allow him to canvass with bidders to acquire tenders.
Canvassing is still an illegal craft his empowerment lobby group members still employ to great “success,” he said.
“They say there is a thin line between a businessman and a criminal,” he said to rapturous laughter.
“All of you want to eat here but for you to eat you have to be within Zanu PF. Any other opposition is not in the tender system.
“If you go there saying you support MDC, you won’t get a tender but if by some chance you win, the minister there will finish you off. You will go to the courts saying you won but hazvina kana basa kuZanu PF (You will never win),” Chiyangwa bellowed.
The property mogul said he learnt to use a corrupt system to his advantage from an early stage.
“When I was building the Whitehouse, it was the first such attractive house and what happened is that I owed CABS because I wasn’t repaying the loan (for the house). I kept borrowing money to the extent that I bought furniture for the house,” he said.
“So they sent evaluators and said ‘we are taking the house to square off with your loan’ ndikati munopenga stereki. So what did I do?
“I rushed to CBZ and I saw (then CBZ Holdings chief executive Nyasha Makuvise. Makuvise instantly wrote a letter advising the bank to give me money so that I pay off the CABS loan . . . that’s why I am where I am today,” he boasted.
“From that day, I spat in the ground and said this house is going into Philip Chiyangwa Family Trust it will never be in my name again.”
Chiyangwa added that the early lessons fuelled his desire to make more money.
“So how then did I make money? I had no capital. So in 1998, I went again to CBZ and saw Gideon Gono. I told him I wanted to buy companies that were liquidating which included Zeco and GND Shoes,” he said.
“I told him ‘Zeco has a lot of potential it has a lot of properties, including land in Bulawayo, a plane and a boat in Kariba. If I sell some of that property I will repay the loan.’ So he accepted. When I went back to Gono to get another loan to buy GND Shoes he said ‘no, another politician had approached, a big politician,’ ndikati hoo ati chii? Akati ati ‘Chiyangwa haafanirwe kupihwa iye mari chete.”
Chiyangwa recalled that he then moved to the doorstep of former Cabinet minister Francis Nhema in his bid to secure $35 million needed for the deal.
“So I went to Nhema who was running a building society at that time. So I went there and told Nhema ‘you are now chairman of my organisation called Native Investments Africa Group. But what I want you to do for me is to be my guarantor so that we take over GND Shoes.”
Having convinced the former Youth minister of the potential for money in a company that had houses in the leafy suburbs of the country, the two agreed to “go into partnership” with a view of selling off some of the property to pay off the loan.
“For this deal to materialise, I also included another politician I can’t mention his name for I fear of embarrassing him but I tricked him in the end,” Chiyangwa said.
Now a multi-millionaire struggling to keep his wealth intact while also presiding over the implosion of a debt ridden Zimbabwe Football Association, Chiyangwa now sees the worst of a same system that made him.
It was no surprise that the property mogul last week launched a thinly veiled attack on his party colleagues branding Zanu PF politicians “fools” bluntly decrying the former liberation party’s policies which he said have ruined business in the country.
Chiyangwa said his colleagues in Zanu PF were running down the economy, chasing away investors and eliminating indigenous business while some were being bought with bottles of whiskey while the economy burns.
“Cash talk breaks no friendship,” Chiyangwa bellowed.
“We need a more proactive government, government officials, ministers and people in Zanu PF where I am. The problem iripo havazive mari (they do not know money),” he said to laughter.
“This problem is very serious. Ukauya ukanzi nemunhu ‘bhodhoro rewhiskey baba vangu’ wakutoenda naye nyika ichiparara (Zanu PF politicians are being swayed by bottles of whiskey while the country burns). How foolish our politicians are that our diamonds were looted in Marange and we only find out when nothing is left, that is foolishness of the highest order.”