President Mugabe has shown leadership by expressing dismay at the obscene salaries that some heads of parastatals and state enterprises have been paying themselves and the criminal allowances the boards of these same institutions were looting.
Our sister paper, The Sunday Mail, quotes Information, Media and Broadcasting Services Minister Professor Jonathan Moyo saying the President had directed all ministers under whom these parastatals, state enterprises and local authorities fall, to take full responsibility of their affairs and ensure corrupt activities end.
While the President’s remarks are reassuring, we are disturbed when some senior party officials send the wrong message by defending the indefensible.
They do not help efforts to assuage public rage at what appears to be a pervasive scourge that has been allowed to fester. It is as if each parastatal, state enterprise or local authority were a stand-alone private institution accountable only to its immediate beneficiaries and not to the Government or the people of Zimbabwe.
That should be a deplorable state of affairs. The result is that scarce national resources have been looted by individuals who have betrayed public trust, and should be brought to justice. And the fact that there have been no arrests and subsequent prosecutions ever since these salary scandals were exposed points to a major lacuna in our legal system.
The generality of Zimbabweans are wondering why nobody has been arrested so far? Why have some parastatal heads and local authority CEOs ignored Cabinet’s directive of November 26, 2013 to produce schedules of salaries and board allowances to the Office of the President and Cabinet?
And when the Harare town clerk was suspended by the mayor for ignoring the request for the salary schedule directive but the minister in charge reinstates him, what is the message being conveyed to other CEOs who haven’t complied; to members of the public already inured to a culture of impunity and expect a paradigm shift — immediate action? What does all this say about Government’s own commitment to fight the scourge of corruption? What is the message to law enforcement agents who should otherwise be reacting with urgency to these reports of abuse and gross mis-allocation of public resources?
Put plainly, most of these parastatal heads and their ministers have failed in their fiduciary duty and have no moral or ethical reason to remain in their posts a day longer.
They reflect badly on the calibre of people we engage to spearhead and superintend on the “new economy” we are trying to build.
The nation feels cheated and short-changed that while ordinary people are told to tighten their belts in the face of ruinous sanctions, there are rapacious fellow countrymen who have no compunction about paying themselves salaries higher than those paid to CEOs of some of the largest global corporations.
Service delivery in our local authorities is a sick joke.
Parastatals, which otherwise should spearhead execution of Government programmes with the minister there to give policy direction as guided by Cabinet deliberations, have been reduced by some to family piggy-banks while low-level employees who toil the most provide free, slave labour!
Perhaps in due course when finally the wheels of justice begin to turn the nation shall be told where these criminal salaries were being banked.
Our banks have long complained about low levels of savings and that they are not able to provide affordable loans to our young entrepreneurs. Farmers have not been able to access loans. Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa has been begging for external assistance to fund Zim-Asset. Everywhere a red flag has been raised about corruption.
Where is the loot?