Corruption investigation just prose 

Source: Corruption investigation just prose | The Herald January 27, 2020

Corruption investigation just prose

Lawson Mabhena, News & Politics Editor

MDC-Alliance must be religious followers of Mario Cuomo’s famous dictum: “You campaign in poetry. You govern in prose.”

A Press conference held last Friday at the party’s headquarters — Morgan Richard Tsvangirai House in Harare — is testimony to this fact.

The poet this time around was none other than Advocate Thabani Mpofu of the “fulcrum” fame.

The seasoned lawyer dazzled many with his poetic arguments during MDC-Alliance leader Mr Nelson Chamisa’s Constitutional Court (Concourt) application challenging the 2018 presidential election result.

The charismatic lawyer and pastor, however, impressed everyone except the most important audience: the nine-member bench.

To put it in William Shakespeare’s words, Chief Justice Luke Malaba and eight other Concourt judges “killed him for his bad verse”.

During Friday’s presser, Adv Mpofu, who leads MDC-Alliance’s Integrity and Accountability Panel (IAP), unveiled three new members to the initially six-member committee.

Following reports of rampant corruption involving MDC-Alliance-led councils countrywide, Mr Chamisa in October last year appointed a committee to investigate and take action against the party’s corrupt officials.

The panel’s scope was expanded to include corruption by party officials outside of local authorities.

This is why when journalists from various media houses were invited for the Press conference on Friday afternoon, they expected fireworks.

They expected the commission to have uncovered corruption and the party to act swiftly and severely.

Instead, it was poetry from Adv Mpofu. The panel has uncovered nothing since October last year, but is still recruiting more members.

On paper, the opposition party is acting on corruption, but in reality, the investigation into corruption is just prose. Long and boring prose.

“Independence and integrity are and will for all purposes and at all times be the hallmarks of this panel. This promise we make; our duties and responsibilities shall be studiously executed without fear or favour and no sacred stone will be left unturned.

We are not on a witch-hunt but only seek to clean up the governance structures of impediments to proper and effective delivery of services.

The President has himself indicated that the panel will be welcome to audit his office.

“. . . During this period of operation, we will audit and investigate. Public hearings will also be held as no man will be condemned unheard. We are guided by the events in the Garden of Eden where God himself did not condemn Adam and Eve without hearing them,” Adv Mpofu told the media.

Investigating corruption at local authorities is just being mystified by the learned advocate. Harare and Chitungwiza, in particular, should have long been cleaned up by the IAP.

Just recently, The Herald reported that an audit had exposed the rot and penchant for luxury at the cash-strapped Chitungwiza Municipality where “undeserving” managers got two annual holiday trips to a regional destination of choice at the expense of ratepayers.

In July last year, City of Harare claimed to be conducting a forensic audit to probe land sales, market operations and employees’ skills from 2016.

The reports are already there. The IAP is only adding to the clutter of unactioned recommendations. MDC-Alliance is quick to accuse the Zanu-PF Government of failing to deal with corruption, but where the party is governing, corruption is the order of the day.

Councils led by the party have run systems to the ground and in some instances, innocent residents have lost their lives.

Poor drainage systems, sewer blockages, no refuse collection and untested boreholes in some settlements are some of the causes of water-borne diseases, including typhoid, which has claimed many lives.

While councillors are busy lining their deep pockets, people are dying.

There is no corruption worse than that — killing your own people, your own voters.

The window dressing by the MDC-Alliance is self-defeating.

The party is ruining councils where it has its largest following and very soon, the voters will see beyond the poetry.

Advocates Chamisa and Mpofu are making all the right noises, but actions speak louder than words.

Is anyone going to be arrested at the end of the IAP’s investigations? Or are corrupt officials going to walk scot-free?

A 2017 survey by Afrobarometer — an African research network — which sought to explain why opposition political parties in Southern Africa are struggling could provide guidance.

The survey, which involved 9 500 interviews was conducted in Botswana, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe.

“The results also show that opposition parties face major obstacles to winning majority support. These include the fact that they aren’t trusted as much as governing parties and that very often they aren’t seen as a viable alternative to the dominant ruling party.

“All five countries are governed by parties that emerged from liberation movements and have been in power for decades since independence. Although some of these incumbents have lost some electoral support in recent years, opposition support has not been high enough to unseat them,” Afrobarometer reported.

If voters already have trust issues with the opposition, the IAP can easily explode in Mr Chamisa’s face. Sweet poetry won’t save the party from corruption.