Corruption: A cancer eating into Zimbabwe

Conrad Gweru Correspondent
Vice President Emmerson Mnangwagwa recently noted that, “ . . . the prevalence of corruption and fraudulent activities in our society is unacceptable and can only derail the efforts that are in place to achieve the goals set out in the Constitution.” The cancer of corruption that is eating into Zimbabwe’s public service delivery system, if not dealt with, will destroy the country’s promising economy. That 22 ministries have been founding wanting on poor corporate governance, abuse of fund accounts and flouting procurement procedures was never an interesting read.

Painfully, only 10 ministries were given a thumbs up by the auditors.

One would expect Government to put measures in place to ensure that every cent is put to its intended use; and not only that, that we get value for money from each transaction made.

Ironically, the officials at the same corrupt ministries always blame government for failing to provide adequate resources to operate efficiently. After every budget presentation, local authorities and ministries always complain of inadequate budgetary allocations.

However, the bigger question is “What have they done to justify the need for more resources with the limited resources allocated to them?”

Urban councils for example always blame inadequate resources for inefficient operation of councils but poor water and sewer reticulation systems are a result of mismanagement of finances and also prioritising incomes more than service.

Far from that, the country’s image must not be put at stake by a few selfish individuals working with no country at heart.

There is no use of keeping individuals in office who prefer to distort the image of the country for self-centred gains.

Government should come up with stringent measures to punish corrupt individuals, regardless of their positions in society, political affiliation or whom they are related to. Various scandals have afflicted Zimbabwe in the past including the National Railways Housing Scandal; Ziscosteel Blast Furnace Scandal; Willowgate Scandal, ZRP Santana Scandal to the so-called Salarygate scandal of last year.

These had far reaching consequences to the country’s image.

The Auditors General report and many other visible signs provide overwhelming evidence that there is need for momentous changes in most ministries and parastatals. Transparency in financial and resource management deserves far greater attention in Zimbabwe than it has so far received. The implications for not doing so has far reaching consequences. The global village has its eyes on Zimbabwe for more than a decade now, and negative issue emanating from the country will receive wide spread publicity regardless of the intensity of the matter. Well, issues of low intensity have always been exaggerated by many western countries.

Government should formulate a comprehensive public sector reform strategy, with the main objective of transforming processes and practices around financial management and achieving major objectives set for each ministry and parastatals. That parastatal heads contacts should be in line with Zim-Asset is a great idea which should be coupled with stringent financial control mechanisms.

Lead ministries as mentioned in Zim-Asset document such as Ministries of Home Affairs; Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs, and Finance, and Security Agencies should now prioritise setting up of systems to deal with mismanagement of resources.

As indicated in the Zim-Asset document, this will include coming up with efficient tender processes; Code of ethics and values National Corporate Governance and restructuring of parastatals and state enterprises amongst others.

The Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (Zacc), an organisation meant to deal with the corrupt elements in the country, should be adequately funded in order for it to discharge its mandate. Corrupt elements should not be involved with the commission in any way.

Sometime last year, the commission was accused for mismanaging $5 million meant for employees m salaries, allowances and other packages.

Apart from stringent control measures, cases of corruption should be investigated and those prosecuted and those found guilty should not only be put in prison but should return all resources looted.

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