Corruption: Make the fight real (this time)
Tichaona Zindoga Political Editor
Let’s face it: corruption in Zimbabwe has reached distressingly high levels that no other factor can mask as the driver of national misery and disgruntlement.
Granted, there are other factors that have contributed to national economic ills such as sanctions imposed on the country by the West that continue to squeeze and constrict national economic development and prosperity.
But these grave factors seem to pale into idealistic insignificance in a material world that we live in.
Zimbabwe is fast on the road to becoming what David Cameron, the British Prime Minister has described as a “fantastically corrupt nation” — the levels, just to use his example, of Nigeria and Afghanistan.
When individuals flaunt a lot of wealth amid a sea of hunger and want — in fact as the gap between the wealthy and poor widens — all other factors cease to matter.
That is the public perception, and resentment is inevitable.
Zimbabwe is in a phase where some individuals have taken to displaying their wealth whether they are politicians, businesspeople, pastors and “prophets”, or are children of the same.
It is the best of times for the wealthy.
It is the worst time for the poor.
The difference between the poor and the wealthy is not only in the measurement of their material.
It is also — and largely so — seen in the difference in access to the means to acquire wealth using proximity to State resources and persons of influence within Government.
Thus people who are not known to have acquired an education, better still a decent one, or having run a successful business wake up millionaires and live like Arab oil sheikhs.
Even where people are educated, some company executives milk their organisations dry and shore up massive wealth on themselves while workers survive on penury.
That is the case with most Government institutions which we know as parastatals which have been bled so dry they have become mere shells.
Not only that, parastatals have in some cases become parasites which drain the Fiscus, while rendering zero value to the ordinary man and woman.
But parastatals are not organisms on their own — they are manned by men and women that are responsible for their predicament.
The same applies to companies in the private sector where the real occupation of managers appears to be “eat”, eat and eat.
The dignity of hard work is gone in Zimbabwe.
It is likely gone forever.
This is the reason why on one hand morale is down, seeing as we do some individuals making lots of money — and this even happens at organisational level — yet they are not exceptionally hard workers or the brightest for that matter.
It is corruption that takes them to ridiculous heights.
That is a veritable national condition today.
Something has got to give.
If authorities want the goodwill of the people of Zimbabwe their task is very simple: just arrest the corrupt individuals and economic criminals in our midst.
It won’t take a day to fill a couple of prisons and at the cost of the freedom of these malcontents, there will be a lot of goodwill towards Government and most importantly the ruling party.
A couple of years ago, goodwill was beginning to sweep the country when there were revelations about the obscene salaries that company executives were getting.
People started to believe that things could be done better in Zimbabwe and except for one Joice Mujuru who happened to be the Vice President of the country, people saw Zimbabwe on the right path to the mend.
Alas, that was but the end of the story!
But over the past few weeks and months, action has been taken against individuals who had long been accused of corruption and malfeasance.
It is hoped that the fight against corruption is for real, this time, not least because we are told that Government is working on a new law to be called Public Sector Corporate Governance Act.
Charles Kuwaza is out of the State Procurement Board — and is being forced to part with trappings of the office he stayed for long.
The SPB has been seen as a corrupt entity and Kuwaza was the face of SPB where he overstayed his welcome and appeared to be untouchable until one day in November in the year 2015.
Gershem Pasi seems gone, too.
This is a latest development.
Last week we woke up to the news that the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (ZIMRA) had suspended its Commissioner-General Pasi and five executive managers, Sithokozile Mrewa, Annah Mutombodzi, Tjiyapo Velempini, Clive Manjengwa and Charlton Chihuri.
Zimra is identifiable with corruption and the goings on at the country’s borders where smuggling is rife and millions of potential revenue has been lost in direct proportion to the fattening pockets of individuals at Zimra are depressing and a serious national concern.
Acting General Manager of the National Social Security Authority Hashmon Matemera was this week arrested and appeared in court for externalising close to US$330 million.
This is but a peek into what has been happening lately, with encouraging results.
Yet it is not only Matemera who has been externalising money; nor Pasi or Kuwaza leading corrupt organisations.
This whole place stinks of corruption.
Just how national corporates such as Zupco, Air Zimbabwe, National Railways of Zimbabwe, ZBC, Cold Storage Company have crumbled is a case for the arrest of those responsible for their decay.
Some malfeasance, most of it actually, has been pointed out by the office of the Auditor General.
Little or no action has been taken.
We are sure the Auditor-General Ms Mildred Chiri will be at hand to render her services and avail some of her reports and recommendations should the same have been forgotten or lost.
Something has to be done.
Something has to give.
Zimbabwe can no longer afford to watch the country go down with corrupt elements bogging the economy and development down.
It is in the interest of Government to tackle this cancer called corruption and, guess what, if citizens see some corrupt bigwigs being hauled to the courts and off to jail where they belong, a sense of goodwill will prevail in this country!
It will be a good story to write home about and talk about in the bars and kombis.
It will be a hopeful story about how Zimbabwe can work for the better.
In material development terms, the eradication of corruption will see more business coming to Zimbabwe.
Corruption raises the cost of doing business and a corrupt country as such Zimbabwe has become, discourages investment, which we so require.
One quickly calls to mind former South African President Thabo Mbeki who regretted in 2012 how corrupt Zimbabwean officials had scuttled intended SA investment here.
It was reported at the time some ministers had demanded a US$10 million bribe to facilitate a US$1 billion investment by African National Congress (ANC)-linked investors.
The businesspeople had wanted to channel that money into diamond mining and other areas.
Zimbabwe has signed mega deals with countries such as China, Russia, Japan and South Africa over the past couple of years.
How can flourish in an environment of corruption?
The time to fight corruption is now.
And if a fight be put up, it has to be real.