John Manzongo Senior Reporter—
Paying lip service to fighting corruption is a serious national security threat with potential to force civilians to protest the State’s inaction, a Zimbabwe National Army general has said. Giving oral evidence before the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Defence and Security in Harare yesterday, Chief of Staff Administration Major General Douglas Nyikayaramba said the country’s economy was not growing and was bleeding because of corruption by some senior Government officials.
“Corruption is a cancer, which is taking the nation backwards, thereby causing insecurity to the nation. It is now a security threat because it is causing people to create mafias or alliances where if one is accused of being corrupt, he quickly asks for the help of other big names to protect him or her.
“The ordinary citizens expect authorities to address these issues, but then if they see nothing happening to the alleged criminals, they will end up being ungovernable and creating problems for the defence forces. Development is being derailed so that individuals can benefit at the expense of the whole nation.
“The Defence budget we were allocated is too paltry compared to what we need and this is mainly because as a nation, we continue to ignore critical issues that will bring stability and confidence to investors who would want to bring their business to this country,” he said.
Maj Gen Nyikayaramba said there should be legislation that prohibits influential people from owning businesses, adding that this was another source of corruption. He said it was disheartening that ordinary people, who presented business proposals and investment ideas to politicians to help them secure funding, had their ideas stolen.
Maj Gen Nyikayaramba said under normal circumstances, the Zimbabwe National Army required $554,56 million, enough to cater for all logistical, administrative and training needs of the army and ensuring that members were properly catered.
He said this helped to boost the troops’ morale, dedication and loyalty. However, Maj Gen Nyikayaramba said the money allocated to the army was making him have nightmares on how he was going to distribute it among all the army’s needs, which ranged from food to medical, equipment procurement and training.
He said the law was supposed to take its course on corrupt bigwigs because if left unattended, ordinary citizens would feel let down by the authorities. “Do not look at the face of individuals or their positions when dealing with corruption because that will lead to disaster.
“If ordinary people see that nothing is being done to corrupt individuals, that will lead to disgruntlement and eventually instability. Most of the people who are building mansions in mountains of posh suburbs in this country are evading tax, which is charged on capital gains, thus they find it easy to splash ill-gotten money on buildings with 50 or so bedrooms. If there are strict capital gains tax laws, people will not just splash money they will use it productively like starting companies, which will employ people and thereby benefiting the whole nation.
“The system should make it a policy that everyone should own a single house in the city so as to give fair opportunities to all the citizens. People are splashing money, which they get corruptly on flashy commodities while others are wallowing in poverty,” he said.
Air Force of Zimbabwe Air Vice Marshal Jacob Nzvede, also said the forecast weather disasters such as the impending La Nina floods forecast by the Meteorological Services Department, would be difficult to contain if the Airforce budget was not sufficient.
He said like the army, the Air Force of Zimbabwe required a bigger budget so that it could fully serve its mandate of protecting the territorial integrity and sovereignty of the nation. Of late there have been cases of senior Government officials who have been implicated in abusing state resources.