In 2016, the then president Robert Mugabe publicly acknowledged that US$15b from diamond proceeds was missing and could not be accounted for. Imagine such a small economy like Zimbabwe whose national budget was less than US$4b in 2016 failing to account for US$15b? And no one was prosecuted for that! It is alleged that the former Minister of Tourism and Hospitality Priscah Mupfumire swindled the National Social Security Authority of US$90m during her tenure as Minister of Social Services. Jonathan Moyo embezzled the Manpower Development Fund of US$400k to use the money for personal agendas and campaigning when he was Minister of Higher and Tertiary Education to gain political mileage in his constituency Tsholotsho. Udenge, the former minister of Energy embezzled ZESA of US$12 650.
There is high level masterminded corruption in Zimbabwe. What pains is the fact that we see the criminals walking scot-free, driving top of the range vehicles as long as they know how to dine and wine with those in power. The procurement and tender process in Zimbabwe is flawed with so many irregularities. The same people always win because they know who to give kickbacks. The land magnates are linked to those in power and authority or else you will not get the land. Incompetent people are given land as developers and the result is poor urban planning that has seen cholera, typhoid and hygiene related disease outbreaks being so rampant.
Corruption has penetrated public institutions to the core. The Auditor General’s Office has unearthed a can of worms revealing massive corruption in most public institutions but nothing is done about it. ZESA, ZPC, ZINARA, ZIMRA are hotbeds of corruption and poor corporate governance among many other public institutions. After all who cares to hold people accountable when the country is on auto-pilot? That is Zim for you, if you don’t know anyone you won’t make it, if you don’t pay someone you won’t get things done. The electrician who comes to connect power at your house must be paid otherwise you will go for years with no power.
Then you see people blaming sanctions virtually for everything they are supposed to do! What has sanctions to do with poor resource allocation? Why not deal with the corruption pandemic first? Why not punish offenders and get them prosecuted as testimony that corruption is loathsome in Zimbabwe? But how can one fight corruption when they are part of it? Corruption is one of the reasons why Zim remains an unsafe investment destination. The process of setting up an investment venture is full of unnecessary bureaucracy, it’s like a punishment to investors. Bureaucracy and autocracy gives officials unfettered power to manipulate potential investors until bribing becomes the only way to get things done. What is in it for me is the question investors meet at every stage. Welcome to Zim where meetings and signatures of those in power are very expensive. For this reason, everyone else is eying their way to the top.
Corruption could be one of the reasons why most of those in power want to cling on till death. They fear prosecution should there be a regime change. To be secure they make sure that power is only in the hands of those they can trust. For this reason, nepotism, tribalism and regional prejudice remains the determining factors for one to get something.
The way forward
The leadership should seriously reform itself first. They must fight corruption from their own DNA. The entire system need a reform. Power should not be in the hands of individuals but it should be in the constitution. No one should be considered as above the rule of law but all should fear to engage in graft and corruption. Politics should not lead but fundamental issues like economic wellbeing of people, human rights, freedom of expression should shape the way things are done in a country.
Our history is very important but we cannot have people committing crimes with impunity because they fought for the country’s independence. In no way should our liberators plunder resources and refuse to be held accountable. The country need a paradigm shift in attitude and behaviour towards public affairs. There is need to have a progressive mind-set that will see this nation breaking away from the corruption and graft scourge that has killed Zimbabwe’s institutions. The country cannot afford to keep losing all the resources to selfish individuals. All the countries that pride themselves of growing their economies did so collectively and this is what is needed in Zimbabwe. The country needs a constitution that promote prompt reporting of corruption and swift action must be taken against perpetrators. Service should be the core mandate of both public and private institutions.
Not having people to pay someone for something they are entitled to. The colonial masters took away what was Zim’s, and today Zimbabwean kith and keen are taking away from each other! What a dog eat dog scenario! Corruption can only be abhorred if there are deterring punishments from the highest level. It is therefore imperative for all to fight corruption from the lowest level to the top most.
Article from AFRIC Editorial
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