Big Saturday Read: The Willowgate Scandal
Alex T. Magaisa
Revisiting an old saga
The recent appointment of Dr. Fredrick Shava as the new Minister of Foreign Affairs has prompted renewed interest in the Willowgate Scandal, an ignominious chapter in the history of corruption in Zimbabwe. The Willowgate Scandal happened a little over 30 years ago, in 1988-89 when The Chronicle newspaper, then edited by veteran journalist Geoff Nyarota unearthed egregious corruption at one of the state-owned companies. In the aftermath of the expose, President Mugabe appointed a Commission of Inquiry, chaired by High Court judge, Justice Wilson Sandura.
It is important to revisit that saga. The idea is not to embarrass the characters involved – some of them are beyond embarrassment while others have either passed on or moved on and have no desire to return to public office. There are many young Zimbabweans who are oblivious of this dark chapter but after reading this summary, they might be surprised that the corruption they are seeing today has a long history. Willowgate is an important footprint in the history of corruption in Zimbabwe and this account will reveal that: number one, the actors in this drama have hardly changed and number two, even where they have changed, the modus operandi remains largely the same. Readers new to this will be struck by the similarities between then and now, all under ZANU PF rule.
The Sandura Commission
The Sandura Commission is the shortened version of the commission that was appointed by President Mugabe on 3 January 1989 under the Commissions of Inquiry Act. Its principal purpose was to carry out investigations into the distribution of motor vehicles by the state-owned motor vehicle assembler Willowvale Motor Industries (Pvt) Ltd, (hereafter “Willowvale”) to persons other than car dealers. Willowvale held franchises to assemble vehicles from various foreign brands such as Mazda, Peugeot, Toyota, and Nissan. Willowvale was a subsidiary of IDC, the state parastatal. It was chaired by the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Industry and Commerce. It is important to set out the context in which the Commission was appointed.
Context: Scarcity, Control, and the Black Market
Many young Zimbabweans today are used to the black market for foreign currency and at the height of hyperinflation just over a decade ago, for basic consumer goods. This saga in the 1980s involved a black market for motor vehicles, both old and new. The general context was that Zimbabwe’s motor vehicle trade sector was facing serious problems due to severe shortages of foreign currency. Willowvale is the company that was assembling vehicles, but the shortage of foreign currency meant its capacity to import car kits was severely reduced. The number of vehicles assembled declined from a peak of 7,430 in 1982 to just 2,416 in 1988. With a demand of between 20,000 to 25,000 cars per year, demand far outstripped supply. The Commission heard from witnesses that there was a backlog of 100,000 cars and there was a long waiting list.
The scarcity made motor vehicles a precious commodity and with high demand, the prices rose exponentially. Both new and second-hand cars were much sought after. The government introduced price controls on the sale of motor vehicles. Dealers and sellers sought ways to circumvent these controls. The Commission heard that this resulted in some “undesirable practices” such as part-exchange deals where dealers asked for second-hand cars if the customer wanted a new car. The dealers would put a very low value on the second-hand car and then sell it at a much higher price. Sometimes dealers got around price controls by selling to a connected third party who then sold it on at an uncontrolled price for a profit which went to the dealer.
It was in this context that political elites found an opportunity to make money through buying and selling vehicles using their proximity to and influence over Willowvale because of their positions. It resulted in the growth of a thriving black market in which Ministers, MPs, and senior civil servants (political elites) were key players and beneficiaries.
What it was then and what it is now
Upon closer examination, many Zimbabweans will recognize that the modus operandi of corrupt elites has barely changed: political elites and their associates gain access to a state-funded facility which they draw from at no cost and then go on to sell on the market and make a vast personal profit. The difference is that this scandal over motor vehicles in the 1980s was officially investigated and several heads rolled, but later scandals, such as opaque foreign currency allocation schemes or the Farm Mechanisation Scheme have never been officially investigated.
The fact that there is no cost of this egregious corruption emboldens beneficiaries to continue looting. For many of them and their offspring, these looting schemes are part of their normalized reality. They are shocked when people tell them that they are doing something wrong. They regard their strategies as an expression of smartness, not corruption. Since they live off these cheap facilities from the state, they have no incentive to challenge or change misrule by ZANU PF. They cannot change it and they have no will to change it because it is the hand that sustains them.
The nature of the scandal at Willowvale
The vehicles that were assembled at Willowvale were distributed to car dealers at dealers’ rates which were lower than market prices. The dealers’ rates were usually $3,000-$5,000 lower than market rates depending on the type of vehicle. However, Willowvale also had the discretion to sell one percent of the vehicles it made per year to persons other than dealers. The Sandura Commission found that it was this facility that was abused as Ministers, MPs, and senior civil servants began to interfere with Willowvale’s discretion for their personal or friends’ benefit.
Willowvale fell under the Ministry of Industry and Commerce and its board was chaired by a senior civil servant at the ministry. The Ministry, therefore, became the avenue through which these political elites abused the facility. The Commission also found that there was no clear policy regarding the criteria for processing requests for vehicles from Willowvale. The result was political elites approached the Ministry for allocation of vehicles from Willowvale and the Ministry sent directives to the management which had no choice but to comply.
When the political elites or their associates received the vehicles, they were charged dealers’ prices. However, they went on to sell the vehicles at way above the controlled rates, making vast profits. This was essentially a black market for vehicles in which political elites got the vehicles at cheap rates before going on to sell them at black market rates. As I have already stated, this is precisely what has happened with foreign currency over the past 15 years. Political elites and their associates have had access to the scarce foreign currency from the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe at cheap rates, which they have gone on to sell on the black market at extremely high rates, earning enormous profits.
As the Commission found, “In a few cases, however, Ministers, having discovered that they could make vast sums of money out of the buying and selling of motor vehicles, purchased a number of motor vehicles from Willowvale and from car dealers and resold them at prices exceeding the controlled prices. In our view, such Ministers grossly abused their powers, positions, and privileges”.
The Commission found that what was going on at Willowvale was wrong because there was an abuse of authority by the political elites who were involved. “What is wrong, in our view,” wrote the Commission, “is for a person in a position of authority or influence to use position to purchase a motor vehicle or motor vehicles from Willowvale with the intention of reselling such vehicle or motor vehicles at a profit”. It was also wrong for such elites to use their position to acquire vehicles for friends or acquaintances even if they made no personal profit from the deal.
Having set out the background, it is now appropriate to set out some of the cases to illustrate the actual corruption and related offences that were uncovered by the Commission.
Nyagumbo was a Senior Minister in Mugabe’s government. He was widely regarded as one of Mugabe’s most loyal lieutenants. They had spent years together in jail during the liberation struggle and Nyagumbo played a role in Mugabe’s ascendancy to the leadership of ZANU as founding president, Reverend Ndabaningi Sithole lost power.
The Commission found that he had assisted several individuals to acquire vehicles from Willowvale using the name of the ruling party, ZANU PF, and sometimes claiming that authorization was from the President (Mugabe) when there was none. In most cases, the vehicles which were acquired from Willowvale were subsequently sold at a high profit.
One of those who benefited from Nyagumbo’s intervention was the wealthy businessman Sam Levy. Levy approached Nyagumbo for help to acquire a vehicle from Willowvale. Nyagumbo facilitated the purchase claiming that the vehicles were for ZANU PF. Levy paid $29,821,58 for the vehicle which was the dealer’s price, $5,000 less than the retail price. Levy then sold it to Lion Insurance Company for $105,000 a year later, making a big profit.
However, the man who benefited the most from his association with Nyagumbo was Jonathan Kadzura, who ran Pamberi Furniture and Electrical Pvt Ltd. The first transaction was the purchase of a Toyota Cressida for $29.821.58 which was soon sold to Jaggers Wholesalers for $42,413. It was this transaction that made Kadzura realize that there was money to be made. He acquired another car on the same terms and sold it to A.W. Bardwell and Co, a Lonrho subsidiary for $65,000. In both cases, Kadzura claimed that he had been tempted to sell by the offers made. He went on to be involved in similar deals.
However, the chain of corruption did not end there. Those who bought the vehicles from Kadzura also went on to sell them for a profit. In one case, Kadzura acquired a vehicle in the usual fashion and sold it to Omar Enterprises for $75,000. Omar Enterprises went on to sell it for $90,000 to Nedlaw Investment Trust. These transactions were possible because of the high demand for a product that was scarce on the market. The black market was thriving and people like Kadzura were right at the centre of it.
The Commission found that Nyagumbo was assisting people in the name of the party – claiming that the cars were for the party when they were for individuals who made “fantastic profits”. The Commission was not happy with Nyagumbo’s performance on the witness stand. “In fact, generally speaking, he was an unimpressive witness,” said the Commission. “His evidence did not have a ring of truth”
While Nyagumbo claimed he had not received a financial benefit from the transactions, the Commission did not believe him. It also refused to believe Sam Levy’s evidence that he had not paid the minister for his assistance in buying two cars from Willowvale. The Commission concluded that Nyagumbo had abused his position and powers. “It was highly improper and dishonest for the Minister to tell Willowavale that the allocation of motor vehicles to the party had been authorized by the President when he knew that to be untrue”.
Nyagumbo died on 28 April 1989, in the wake of the scandal. The official report was that he committed suicide. The suggestion was that he was generally an honest and proud man who could not live with the shame of having been exposed in this corrupt scheme. Had he known what his comrades would go on to do, which is far worse than he did, he might have thought twice before taking his own life. However, some conspiracy theories cast doubt on the official narrative.
The case of Callistus Ndlovu is interesting because he was the Minister of Industry and Commerce, which oversaw Willowvale.
In some cases, business elites used employees as fronts to cover their tracks in corrupt and illegal transactions. For example, Bulawayo-based businessman, Naran used two of his employees Mpofu and Ndlovu to acquire vehicles from Willowvale under the auspices that they were aspiring businessmen. Minister Ndlovu knew this was not true, but he still went on instruct Willowvale to allocate vehicles to the two men.
The two men had no means to pay for the vehicles. They entered an arrangement with Naran, who gave them “loans” to buy the vehicles from Willowvale. But there was no way the men could have repaid the loans. In the case of Ndlovu, the loan of $24,382.80 was to be repaid at the rate of 17% per annum and $2,300 per month, and yet he was earning $1,200 per month. There was no way that he was ever going to pay back the loan. Mpofu was earning just $500 per month. After delivery of the vehicles both Ndlovu and Mpofu gave them up Naran on the basis that they could not pay the loans, he could have the vehicles.
It was clear that both transactions were disguised purchases by Naran and that both Mpofu and Ndovu were mere puppets at his beck and call. In the case of the vehicle bought through Ndlovu, Naran sold it on to Mac’s Main Street Garage in Bulawayo for $75,000 which in turn sold it on to Fred’s Driver and Son for $85,000, also making a profit. Naran also got another Toyota Cressida which he sold on to African Distillers for a profit. The Commission found him to be an evasive and unsatisfactory witness.
The Commission found that despite denials, Minister Ndlovu had benefited from the corrupt transactions. Naran had paid for a plot of land for the Minister. However, the $63,000 purchase and transfer price were presented as a “loan” which would be repaid at a rate of 10% interest. The Commission did not believe the explanations given by both Naran and the Minister and concluded that this was the Minister’s share of the profits realized by Naran from the sale of at least 3 vehicles which Naran had effectively got through the Minister’s facilitation.
The Commission was unimpressed by Minister Ndlovu’s performance as a witness. “We did not find the Minister to be a satisfactory witness,” wrote the Commission. “He was arrogant and aggressive and showed anger and bitterness as if he had something to hide and was not happy with the inquiry being conducted. In fact, at one stage of the proceedings, he had to be warned of the grave consequences of being contemptuous of the Commission. Indeed, he came very close to being detained in the cells until the rising of the Commission”
Enos Nkala was one of the senior ministers in Mugabe’s government. A founding member of ZANU PF, he hosted the formation of the party at his house in Highfield, Salisbury in 1963. He had held key posts as Minister of Finance and at the time of the scandal, he was Minister of Defence. Like Nyagumbo, he was a true political heavyweight of the Mugabe generation.
The Commission found that he had facilitated the purchase of a Mazda 323 for Naran, the Bulawayo-based businessman, with whom he had a strong business relationship. It cost $15,194.40 ($3,000 less than the retail price) but he went on to sell it for $52,000 to Monarch Products another Bulawayo-based company making a profit of $37,000. The Commission did not believe Nkala’s claim that he had not benefited financially from this transaction given his business relationship with Naran and the role he had played in facilitating the purchase.
In one case, Nkala bought a Toyota Cressida from Zidco Motors (Pvt) Ltd – a ZANU PF company in the car dealing business – which car was then sold to Monarch Products for $90,000. However, Nkala and others had lied that the car was sold for $29,000. When the true price was revealed, and the lies were exposed, Nkala resigned his post as Minister of Defence. It was an ignominious end to the career of a high flying, arrogant and proud politician. The Commission concluded that he had abused his ministerial position and that at least 3 witnesses, including Nkala, had committed perjury when they lied under oath. It recommended that the AG should prosecute the culprits. However, for reasons that will soon become apparent, he escaped prosecution.
Fredrick Shava has just been appointed the Minister of Foreign Affairs in the current government led by President Mnangagwa. It’s a return to the Cabinet after more than 30 years since he exited the first time because of the Willowgate Scandal. He was a senior minister in Mugabe’s government and one of the most academically decorated when the scandal was exposed. This is his story, as detailed in the Commission’s report.
The Commission heard that Shava purchased 4 cars from Willowvale and other car dealers and resold them at a profit. The first was a Mazda 323 purchased in an arrangement with one Mohamed. The Commission found the testimony of the two men “incredible” and that they were unreliable. The Commission believed that Shava purchased the car before selling it on to Mohamed at a “substantial profit”.
Shava then bought a Nissan Cabstar truck for $45,000 from Kenning Motors at the beginning of 1988 and soon re-sold it to a businessman in Chitungwiza for $75,000 making a profit of $30,000. His explanation for selling it was that he had discovered that he “no longer needed the vehicle”.
Shava also bought a Mazda B1600 from Zimbabwe Motor Assemblers and Distributors Pvt Ltd for $20,128,40. It was immediately registered in his wife’s name and resold 5 days later to Flame Lily Panel Beaters for $65,000 making an immediate profit of $45,000. According to the Commission, Shava had initially lied that he could not recall the price at which the car was sold to Flame Lily but he had later changed his mind “when he realized he could not go far with his lies because his answers were becoming more and more ridiculous as he was questioned further”.
In another transaction, in June 1988, Shava bought a Toyota Cressida from Willowvale for $32,780, which was the dealer’s price ($5,000 less than the retail price). Soon after, he re-sold the car to one Girach for $95,000, making a profit of $62,220,00. However, when he gave testimony, Shava lied that he had sold the car for just $30,000. He later changed and admitted the true account.
The verdict of the Commission was damning. “It is obvious from the evidence that Shava was behaving like a car dealer,” wrote the Commission “In one year, he made a profit of $140,000 from buying and selling motor vehicles”. The Commission said his profits could be much higher given that there were unknown dealings. It concluded that this was “a gross abuse of a Minister’s position, powers, and privileges”.
The Commission found that Shava and other witnesses had committed perjury and hoped that the Attorney General would institute proceedings. The Attorney General took action and Shava’s was the first case to be prosecuted for perjury. Shava was convicted and sentenced to nine months’ imprisonment. However, he was rescued by Robert Mugabe who issued a presidential pardon which meant Shava spent just a few hours in custody. Mugabe had a lame justification for the pardon. “Who amongst us has not lied?” Mugabe said. “Yesterday you were with your girlfriend and you told your wife that you were with the Prime Minister. Should you get nine months for that?”
That is how Shava escaped prison. However, it was not just Shava who got away with it. All the others who had been flagged by the Commission as having breached the law and also of having committed perjury were let go. After the pardon, Patrick Chinamasa, who was the Attorney General dropped all cases related to the scandal. His justification was recorded in The Herald on 14 July 1989, "In light of that possibility [of a presidential pardon], it is certainly not in the public interest ... to expend the energies of my staff or to marshal or commit prosecution and judicial resources in bringing charges against persons who might at the end receive a free pardon. I think for me to do that would bring the whole machinery of justice into disrepute and will make a mockery of the whole judicial process".
Shava is the man that Mnangagwa has appointed to be the international face of his government. The Permanent Secretary for Information and Publicity, Ndavaningi Mangwana describes Shava’s criminal past as “mistakes” from which he has learned. Critics are not as forgiving, and there is no reason to believe that the label will disappear anytime soon.
Jacob Mudenda is the current Speaker of the National Assembly and head of Parliament, a role he has held since 2013. Like Shava, he was named in the Commission’s report. His presence as head of Parliament is used as justification for Shava’s return: if he has been allowed to preside over the third arm of the State, why can’t Shava be Foreign Affairs Minister?
The Commission heard that Mudenda, who was a Governor at the relevant time, bought and sold a Scania truck when he was not entitled to do so, making a “very large profit” in the process. Mudenda asked for help from the Ministry of Industry to buy a Scania truck purportedly for his family’s haulage business. Mudenda said he was buying it for his father who was running a refuse collection business with a scotch-cart in Hwange.
When Mudenda got assurances that he would get a truck and trailer, he approached Monarch Products in Bulawayo, asking if they wanted to buy a Scania truck. Monarch agreed and Mugenda told them it would cost $465,000 of which $350,000 was needed immediately. Monarch paid the bulk of the fee before the truck was delivered. However, the purchase price of the truck and trailer was $387,808.25, which means he made a profit of $79,000.
The Commission concluded that Mudenda was an unreliable witness. “It was clear to us that he had simply discovered, as other people had done, that this was a simple way to make money for himself without spending a cent from his own pocket,” the Commission said, adding that it was satisfied that he would have bought a second truck from Leyland had the Willowgate Scandal not been exposed. Even then he had not been truthful with evidence of his efforts to procure a truck from Leyland. He only admitted when his letter confirming such contact was presented to him. “It is our view that he committed perjury for which he should be prosecuted by the Attorney General”.
While the Commission found that there was no offence over the Scania truck because it was not subject to price controls, it concluded that “this was profiteering at its worst. The Governor used his position to acquire the truck quickly, resold it, and made a huge profit without spending one cent of his own”. Mudenda could have been prosecuted and jailed at least for perjury, like Shava. But his was one of the cases that were dropped when Shava was pardoned. He weathered the storm and rose to become Head of Parliament. No wonder Shava’s supporters see nothing wrong with his return. He is in good company.
Oppah Muchinguri is the current Chairperson of ZANU PF and the current Minister of Defence. Back in the 1980s, she was a young MP and Deputy Minister. She had returned from the United States of America where she had been shipped soon after independence. When she was appointed she claimed she had no vehicle. She was offered a Toyota Cressida from Willowvale.
However, by then she had already been given a car by CMED, another state parastatal. She then assigned the car to a friend who bought the car from Willowvale. The friend then sold it to Executive Cars, which in turn sold it to African Distillers for $95,000, making a substantial profit for a car that was around $30,000.
The Commission was unable to determine what had happened or who had financially benefited from the transaction, but it found that it was improper for Muchinguiri as a deputy minister and MP to have assigned the car to a friend who was not an MP. Muchinguri said the reason for assigning the car was that she no longer needed it because she had been allocated one from CMED.
Mtumbuka was of the crop of well-educated Ministers in Mugabe’s government. He left a major footprint in the education sector and despite this scandal, he went on to have an impressive career as an international civil servant.
The Commission found that he bought a car that was registered in his wife’s name but was later sold to Jaggers Wholesalers. There was controversy over the amount for which it was sold but the Commission concluded that it was sold for 110,000, although half of it was returned to Jaggers after the scandal was exposed. The Commission also found that Mtumbuka, his wife, and other witnesses had given false information to the Commission, therefore, committing perjury for which prosecution was recommended.
“In our view, the Minister was a very unsatisfactory witness,” the Commission wrote in its report. “He was belligerent and hostile to the Commission and appeared to believe, as he put it, that the Commission was after his blood. At times he appeared contemptuous of the Commission and had to be warned of the consequences of contempt, whereupon he apologized”
Chinyati was an MP who was allocated a vehicle through a special scheme for parliamentarians. He did not have the money to buy the vehicle, so he made an arrangement with one Mukadam who advanced him the funds to buy the vehicle from Willowvale. However, he immediately sold the vehicle to Anglo American Corporation for $82,500, making a huge profit. Mukadam was repaid his $30,000 loan plus a commission of $5,500, leaving Chinyati with a profit of $47,000. Chinyati had lied to the Commission when he gave evidence. The sale of the vehicle at a price that was far beyond the controlled price ($23,031.00) was a criminal offence for which prosecution was recommended.
Simela and Dhliwayo
Both were MPs and Dhliwayo had been allocated a vehicle under the special schemes for MPs. However, he did not have the money to buy the car. Simela approached him and offered to buy the car. However, Simela was doing it for another person, his friend Jack MacLaren. The Commission found that he had abused his parliamentary privilege. Simela had also committed perjury because he had given false evidence in his testimony to the Commission.
Simela also did the same with his vehicle allocation, buying the vehicle for Mr. Clarkson whose company bought the car. It was an abuse of the privilege.
In the case of the then Lt-General Mujuru, he was allocated a one-tonne truck by Willowvale although he preferred a 5-tonne truck. He bought it for $21,926.29. When another car dealer, ZIMOCO later offered him a 5-tonne truck, he asked a friend to sell the one-tonne truck for $30,000. The friend did so and returned with $30,000. However, evidence from the garage was that the vehicle was sold for $62,000. The garage immediately sold it to Lyons Brook Bond for 65,000.
The report does not say whether the general knew that the vehicle had been sold for $62,000 or whether the friend he entrusted with the transaction pocketed the difference and gave the general the $30,000 he had asked for. In any event, the Commission found that there were no breaches of the law since the vehicle was not subjected to price controls when it was sold. The controls only came later. However, there was profiteering, just as in the Mudenda case. The Commission’s report is conspicuous by its limited commentary on this case. It would be interesting to see the transcript of this particular testimony since it involved a powerful military general. Mujuru was the most senior military commander and he was a man of considerable power and influence.
Zidco Motors was a ZANU PF-controlled car dealing company. The Commission found that it recorded a sale of a Toyota Cressida 1986 model to a Mrs. T. Martin at the controlled price of $29,978. However, the purchaser gave evidence that she had paid $80,000 in cash. The Commission concluded that either Zidco had sold the car for a higher price and made a false entry in its records or someone at Zidco had sold the car for a higher price and pocketed the difference. The Commission urged the party, ZANU PF, to work with the police “to carry out a thorough investigation of the financial affairs of its company, Zidco. It may very well be that certain persons are using Zidco and its property to make a considerable amount of money for themselves”. It was clear that some nefarious activities were going on.
Where is the current boss in all this, you might be asking? He is named in the Commission's report but among several other ministers and individuals who acquired vehicles directly from Willowvale at preferential rates, but they did not sell their cars and the Commission said no evidence of "improper intention or undue pressure" had been given in those transactions. He was the Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs during the time of the Commission and was listed as having bought a Toyota Cressida.
This is what happened in the Sandura Commission. Everything in this BSR is drawn from the official report. A few things are important to note:
There are striking similarities between the corrupt scheme at Willowvale and the corrupt scheme over the allocation of foreign currency and other state-facilities. In all cases, the state provides goods, including foreign currency at cheap rates, and political elites and their associates go on to sell those goods at high prices, making obscene profits. In all these cases, the elites do not invest a cent, and therefore they never suffer any losses. Every hand they play is a winner because they are using taxpayers’ money. It was happening in 1988, and it is still happening in 2021.
The cases of Mudenda, Shava, and Muchinguri are a reminder that in ZANU PF if you don’t take the Nyagumbo route and die, there is always a way back to the feeding trough. That’s why the likes of Henrietta Rushwaya are already gaining acceptance soon after being caught red-handed trying to smuggle gold out of the country. She is not alone. The likes of Obadiah Moyo, Prisca Mupfumira, John Mangwiro, and other ZANU PF characters are safe because they belong to the cult.
Willowgate was a big shock in the 1980s, but everything that went on then is still happening and few are shocked by it. It has become a way of life. In many ways, corruption has become normalized. Those who benefit from these nefarious schemes regard themselves as smart. They do not see anything wrong with the looting. The ordinary people, it seems, are no longer outraged by it. There is an argument to be made that by keeping quiet in the face of such looting, the poor are passively condoning and enabling it.
Willowgate reminds us of the roots of impunity. The moment President Mugabe let Shava out of jail with that lame excuse, he opened the floodgates for corrupt behaviour. You could steal and lie to the judicial authorities and the President would let you out of jail. It undermined the courts, but it also emboldened looters, creating a culture that is now suffocating the entire country.
There is no incentive among the crooks in the regime to leave power or to open space for alternatives. Their personal political economies are tied to the State. They feed off the State and if that lifeline is cut off, they will not survive. This explains why for most of them their “business empires” collapse once they leave power. They will not leave power and privilege without serious political pressure.