EDITORIAL COMMENT: Time to walk the talk on corruption

10 May, 2016 - 00:05 0 Views
EDITORIAL COMMENT: Time to walk the talk on corruption

The Herald

“IT is like diabetes, can only be controlled, but not totally eliminated,” an Indian blogger concluded on corruption. “It may not be possible to root out corruption completely at all levels, but it is possible to contain it within tolerable limits.” Failure to manage diabetes can cause serious problems. Too much glucose in one’s blood can damage the eyes, kidneys and nerves.

Diabetes can also cause heart disease, stroke and even the need to remove a limb.

Failure to manage corruption is already causing serious problems in Zimbabwe.

It has affected our eyes, kidneys and nerves — we can no longer see wrong, filter “bad apples” or manage our systems.

The Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (ZACC) suspended four managers recently for allegedly engaging in corrupt activities while “combating graft”. ZACC suspended Sukai Tongogara (General Manager, Investigations), Christopher Chisango (General Manager, Finance, Administration and Human Resources), Edwin Mubataripi (General Manager, Prevention and Advocacy) and Gibson Mangwiro (Chief Accountant/Manager Finance).

This is a clear symptom of our failure to manage corruption.

All interventions have been more talk and less action. Our five-point strategy to combat corruption can be summarised as thus: talk, talk, talk, talk, talk. The recent pronouncement by Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa, who is also responsible for the Justice ministry, that Government is working on a new law — the Public Sector Corporate Governance Act — that will see corruption and other related maladministration in the public sector being punishable at law, is not sweet enough for the ears of the sceptical Zimbabwean public.

According to an article we published yesterday, the new law which is likely to be effected next month will largely incorporate recommendations made in the National Code for Corporate Governance that was crafted by Government and the private sector in 2014.

Government has also set up two units that will deal with gross mismanagement and corruption in loss-making entities, looking at financial statements of all public sector institutions and follow up on findings and recommendations of the Auditor-General.

The code was formulated with the assistance of World Bank experts following media exposure of massive and undeserved remuneration of top executives, flouting of tender procedures and other murky activities in both private and public entities.

Honourable VP it is now time to walk the talk; the public want to see arrests. We cannot lose limbs or stroke as a result of our own negligence. After the media exposed various cases of corruption in both private and public institutions, little or no action was taken.

Excuses were proffered; there is no law making this and that illegal. What excuses are going to be made now? On Sunday we were told that the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe is investigating several top companies for allegedly externalising millions of United States dollars, contributing to present cash shortages. Governor Mangudya told The Sunday Mail that at least US$50 million had been externalised via wire transfers since January 2016 while cash transported out of Zimbabwe physically is still to be quantified.

Those investigations must result in arrests. If no arrests are made, who will bell the cat? Where serious allegations are made by public officials, action must be taken.

Domènec Melé, a professor at the University of Navara’s business school, lists the following as some of the possible causes of corruption: inefficient controls, slow judicial processes and downplaying or reacting mildly to corruption charges. We implore public officials to treat corruption cases with the seriousness they deserve. We demand that they contain corruption, as this is a fight we cannot afford to lose. If they don’t have the capacity, they should step down and give others a chance.

While we commend the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority for setting up a toll free hotline that “will be managed by an independent service provider” and flighting adverts in all newspapers in order to drum up public participation, the public also deserves to know what would have happened to corrupt officials. If whistle-blowers are not satisfied with the remedial action, the hotline will become a white elephant.

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