The battle against corruption and the ending of a culture that seeks wealth through the same is being stepped up to end the fraud, graft, indiscipline and criminality which was threatening to derail the country’s national development agenda.
Since his inauguration as leader of the Second Republic, President Mnangagwa has been sending out a strong message that he will not brook corruption at any level. In just two years, he has sacked three Cabinet ministers, a deputy minister and confirmed the sacking of a senior judge on grounds that include potential corruption, for allowing corruption to take place in entities they supervise, and impropriety.
Several other senior Government officials have been arrested for criminal activities and are now being prosecuted. President Mnangagwa has also stressed that he will not tolerate the emergence of a “catch and release” syndrome where suspects are arrested on corruption allegations, only to be released without prosecution. Judges have brought up the same complaint, and this requires further strengthening of the investigation teams so that proof can be obtained.
The warning that the law on civil seizure of unexplained assets will be more vigorously applied is also welcome. Sometimes it might be impossible to prove criminality beyond reasonable doubt, but fairly obvious when someone cannot explain how they acquired a swathe of property and other assets, assumptions can be made on the balance of probabilities and the assets forfeited.
Before the ascension of Cde Mnangagwa to the Presidency, the citizenry had become accustomed to cases of corruption being widely reported, but with no sanctions being preferred against suspected perpetrators.
Honest and hardworking members of our society slowly became despondent as corrupt individuals continued profiting from nefarious activities while there was no reward for moral uprightness.
Temptation began persuading the honest to join the ways of the wicked and the country’s social fabric was weakened until authorities intervened to stop the rot.
Speaking at the 345th session of the Politburo on Wednesday, President Mnangagwa warned that the days when senior Zanu PF members could engage in corruption and hide behind their status, were gone.
Neither the party and his administration, and he heads both remember, would allow the party to be a haven of malcontents and criminals and pledged to take decisive action against wayward cadres.
Indeed, people who have been awarded huge Government contracts to implement projects for the betterment of the people, but have failed to deliver, must be made to account. They must either implement the projects or go to jail, or at the very least because of some act of God, not benefit from the deal if they cannot deliver.
Those who have been stealing public funds, directly or indirectly, to finance lavish lifestyles and have made flamboyance their hallmark, must have their ill-gotten wealth forfeited to the State. Again this requires better investigation, to get all the details, and good presentation before a judge. The tenets of good governance and transparency being vigorously pursued by the New Dispensation should be upheld at all times for the country to achieve the set objective of becoming an upper middle income economy by 2030.
Corrupt activities are not the preserve for public officials. There is a lot of sleaze in the private sector as well and to the detriment of society. Some of this is managerial fraud, and shareholders must be alert and more active to ensure that those they hire to run the businesses are both honest and efficient before discussion of their salaries and perks.
Some traders have been reported to be engaged in profiteering scams. Overcharging is not a criminal offence, but can easily be beaten by continuing to make it easier for new businesses to open. Honest business people seeking fair profits can then easily dominate the markets and wipe out the profiteering.
Several players in the financial services sector have been sabotaging the economy through illicit and speculative currency dealings which were resulting in frequent exchange rate shifts and price instability.
This has been arrested through measures implemented under the Government’s Transitional Stabilisation Plan and the whole raft of measures from the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe and the Government to make the source of every payment known. On the social front, general indiscipline has manifested itself in several circles, especially at a time we are fighting and winning the war against the Covid-19 pandemic.
The spike in armed robbery and murder cases should be dealt with decisively to enable citizens to feel secure in their homes once more and to go about their business without hindrance. This is now being done, with the police in Beitbridge, of all places, taking a lead with wrapping up two of the most dangerous gangs in the country. No investor wants to deploy resources to a country characterised by insecurity and therefore, it is vitally important to maintain a low crime rate to attract the much needed foreign direct investment.
Recent shooting incidents in Harare, Chivhu and Beitbridge are a cause for concern and have no place in our traditionally peaceful country.
Government’s engagement and re-engagement efforts are beginning to bear fruit and no malcontents should be allowed to scupper them.
Maintenance of law and order, especially in urban settings and resort areas, is crucial to attract tourists when the economy fully re-opens. The re-emergence of pirate taxis, also known as mushikashika, leaves a bitter taste in the mouth after months of sanity brought about by the Covid-19-induced lockdown regulations.
Fortunately, authorities are alive to the challenges that lie ahead and have outlined measures to deal with retrogressive elements bent on inhibiting development and tarnishing the country’s image.
Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage Minister Kazembe Kazembe last week said corruption, violent crime and maintenance of peace and stability in the country remained high on the law enforcement agenda.
Minister Kazembe said corruption remained a cancer gnawing slowly against our trust as a country towards the Vision 2030 trajectory set out by President Mnangagwa.
Law enforcement agencies were rebounding their efforts to tackle the scourge, working in concert with the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission and the Special Anti-Corruption Unit in the Office of the President and Cabinet.
Security services had also gone a gear up to sharpen the identification, tracing, apprehending and prosecution of violent crime suspects while those sponsored to destabilise the country politically would also be accounted for.
President Mnangagwa has set the country on a firm development path through a number of policy interventions. He has outlined his vision to stop the rot that was getting better of our society. Criminals beware. The lion has roared; who will not fear?