IMAGINE a border post where haulage trucks are forced to spend more than five days in a queue to complete a customs clearing process that under normal circumstances would not take mere hours.
The delay has been fertile breeding ground for corruption as some haulage truck drivers and operators simply pay their way out of the confusion and usually avoiding paying duty on their contraband. And the government tax collector — Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra) — which ought to be a paragon of efficiency, is fast becoming a symbol of criminality, immorality and shame.
To many it boggles the mind that trucks are spending more than five days at the border, but it is a reality that cannot be allowed to exist in this digital age.
It was enlightening that government admitted corruption was behind the delays at the Beitbridge Border Post and deployed a crack team from Zimra and Zimbabwe Republic Police Criminal Investigations Department to arrest the situation that has gone rogue.
It is high time the President Emmerson Mnangagwa-led administration took stock and showed its commitment to fighting corruption than this lip service.
On several occasions, government officials have admitted that corruption is crippling the economy and bigwigs are the major culprits but no action has been taken.
The chaos is just a tip of the iceberg of how rotten government operations have become.
Corruption is proving to be a cancer that is difficult to treat for this clueless administration that has seen the economy tumbling to its worst level in years.
The delays are in spite of the US$300 million Beitbridge modernisation which shows that graft at the border will undermine long-term sustainable development initiatives.
Corruption has been allowed to go unchecked for so long, eroding the efficiency and legitimacy of State institutions. It is also affecting the country’s economic performance by influencing key matrix such as investment, taxation, effectiveness of public expenditure and rule of law.
British diplomat Nigel Baker once said: “It is right to call corruption a cancer. When it grows in the body politic, sometimes imperceptibly, it has the ability rapidly and insidiously to infiltrate and destroy the organs of the State. Once embedded, it is very difficult to cut out. It prevents countries from developing and reaching their full potential, and destroys the ethical and moral foundation of a State.”
Thus, the time is now to eradicate corruption in the country before losing out to our neighbours with better governance systems.