via Corruption, part of Zim fabric – DailyNews Live by Fungi Kwaramba 2 MARCH 2014
If Maurice Nyagumbo, the former Cabinet minister, who allegedly killed himself after having being fingered in the Willowgate scandal in 1989 was to rise from the dead he would regret having taken his life over a Toyota Cressida vehicle.
Now things have changed, ministers are living large and none, “even if fingered in corruption” is honourable enough to throw-in the towel.
Instead they cling on and sometimes brag about it. With houses ensconced on mountain tops, and fat bank accounts, the country’s political elite seem immune and beyond the reach of the long arm of law.
That corruption thrives in Zimbabwe is hardly earth shattering or new.
In 1989, the nationalist government led by President Robert Mugabe, still fresh from the guerrilla war and shaking off the socialist ideology, were caught in a shocking looting spree that led to Nyagumbo’s inglorious death.
After independence, Zimbabwe had adopted a socialist-inspired economy.
Efforts to circumvent protectionist policies, and suffocating bureaucracies left the country largely susceptible to widespread corruption.
The Willowgate scandal sucked in ministers like Nyagumbo, Enos Nkala, Dzingai Mutumbuka and their spouses, several ministers were shown the exit door but more survived.
Despite government price control regulations in the 1980s, the political elite used their influence and contacts to re-sale the cars at market price, something all too common in the country now.
Since then, corruption has not only endured in the southern African country, but has flourished unabated rising to alarming levels.
Paying bribes for the simplest services is routine practice, and this comes from the top echelons in society to those bottom.
The 2012 Corruption Perceptions Index, by Transparency International, ranks Zimbabwe at 163 out of 174 countries surveyed over corruption.
While paying petty bribes remains universal, corruption has reached epic proportions with the revelations of shocking salaries of public servants just the tip of the iceberg.
Now dubbed the “Salarygate scandal’’, it has sucked into its vortex ZBC and Psmas, the State-run health insurer for civil servants and also the Harare City Council.
Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai said corruption has become a cancer in the country.
On paper, the country has all the necessary tools to deal with graft, but the institutions are too weak according to Dewa Mavhinga, the chairperson of the Crisis Coalition Zimbabwe.
“We have a good Constitution and laws against graft but the institutions are too weak to deal with the powerful elite. What we need is to build strong structures,” said Mavhinga.
The Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission was last year exposed, when it tried to investigate government ministers, instead of being the hunters the anti-graft body became the hunted.
Analysts say as long as Mugabe pays lip service to corruption the country will remain trapped in a warp of graft.
A barrage of corruption scandals in Zimbabwe, each one more brazen than the one before it, has exposed just how pervasive and pernicious the stealing has become in the country.
Apart from the Willowgate scandal of the late 80’s which saw five members of Mugabe’s Cabinet resigning the country has witnessed more several jaw dropping cases of corruption and nothing has been done to the perpetrators.
In the early 90’s, the War Victims Compensation Fund (WVCF) was looted by senior government officials and their associates, relatives and friends. The WVCF was established under the War Victims Compensation Act (Chapter 11:16) to compensate victims of war for injuries suffered during the liberation war.
Following reports of mass-scale looting, a Judicial Commission of enquiry was set up and its findings shocked the nation.
Among top officials who benefited from the scam are, police commissioner-general Augustine Chihuri, who claimed 20 percent disability, Air Marshal Perence Shiri claimed 50 percent disability, minister of Gender Oppah Muchinguri claimed 65 percent disability and the vice president Joice Mujuru claimed 55 percent.
The late Edgar Tekere claimed that he was 90 percent disabled.
Around 1995, government officials and politicians looted funds contributed by civil servants for accommodation.
The ‘‘pay for your house scheme’’ was shattered when millions of dollars were diverted to build houses for senior government officials.
A total of 185 senior government officials benefitted from the illegal housing scheme at the expense of genuine beneficiaries.
Among the senior government officials named include, First Lady, Grace Mugabe, who had a house built for her at 221 Armthwaite Road, Quinnington, and Borrowdale.
High Court Judge Justice Paddington Garwe, and the then Foreign Affairs minister Stan Mudenge.
In 1999 officials of the National Oil Company of Zimbabwe (NocZim) were implicated in fraud cases involving Z$238 million.
One of the managers allegedly prejudiced NocZim of Z$802 million while the Permanent Secretary for the ministry of Transport was implicated to the tune of Z$642 million.
Upon a public outcry, arrests were made and the cases were initially heard in the Magistrates’ Courts but the outcome was never made public.
The then minister of Transport (the late Enos Chikowore) resigned as a result of the NocZim corruption.
As a result of that scandal, the country faced serious fuel shortages, which tremendously affected development.
At Zupco, the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) arrested and formally charged the former deputy minister of Information and Publicity, minister Bright Matonga for alleged corruption.
The deputy minister allegedly solicited for bribes while he was the chief executive officer (CEO) of the State-owned bus company, Zupco.
He was charged together with Zupco board chairperson, Charles Nherera after they both allegedly solicited a $85 000 bribe from a foreign bus supplier (Gift Investments) as an inducement for them to award a tender to supply buses to the public transporter.
The suspiciously rich minister of Local Government and National Housing, Ignatius Chombo is one of the few senior government officials whose assets have been publicly exposed through some divorce proceedings.
This seems to be the tip of the iceberg since there could be many other senior officials who have similar or more wealth.
Enter the 2010 to 2013 era of Constituency Development Fund (CDF), 10 legislators, six from Zanu PF and four from MDC failed to account for $50 000 advanced to them from the CDF, a facility meant for developmental projects in constituencies. But several MPs were never touched. It is alleged that the arrests were blocked by the Office of the Attorney General.
In a shocking report Global Witness in its June 2012 report cites the unfortunate, illegal and well-coordinated involvement of the secret police, military and some diamond companies. According to the report Zimbabwe lost nearly $2 billion from opaque diamond dealings.
According to Tsvangirai, expecting Mugabe to deal decisively with corruption is like expecting a “mosquito to cure malaria.”
Latest figures released by tax collector, Zimbabwe Revenue Authority, the country lost $2 billion to corruption for the year 2012.