ED admin ignoring root cause of rot

Source: ED admin ignoring root cause of rot – The Standard August 4, 2019


Poisonous snakes’ teeth regenerate. It, therefore, doesn’t work to remove the serpent’s fangs and think you won’t get snake bites anymore. The venom lies deep inside too.

The Mnangagwa administration must learn a thing or two in this branch of herpetology — the study of reptiles — the day it decides to get serious with the fight
against corruption.

To paraphrase a recent quote, if the Zanu PF government decided to be serious with corruption, almost everyone in government and the ruling party would be in
jail by now. That’s partially correct.

In Zanu PF — pretty as it is in the opposition, by the way — knowing how to be corrupt is a rite of passage. Just as adolescent boys’ circumcision was in the
good old days. The new Zacc chairperson, Loice Matanda-Moyo, has a clue on this. Last week, she came out guns blazing against the bunch of Zanu PF youth league
leaders that’s waving lists of targeted senior party members it says are corrupt. It’s time for bed when a black kettle starts singing about black pots.

But the person who gave that quote is also partially wrong. Because, you see, his statement presupposes that getting people arrested is a sufficient show for
fighting corruption. Yes, it’s good to give corrupt people their time in the dock, and the locker too. It takes some of the evil we suffer daily away from
society. And it sends out a useful signal that corruption is a bad thing to do. It gets you rapped hard on the knuckles, particularly so in winter, as Prisca
Mupfumira, the cabinet minister who is having her phase in remand prison, would tell you.

Arresting people and, hopefully, sending them to jail is not the be-all and end-all of fighting corruption, though. It’s obvious that’s what the Mnangagwa
establishment is praying we will believe. That’s why it’s been making such a big case around Mupfumira’s arrest. It uses the catch-and-release model to try to
fool us and deflate attention from real crises. Several ex-ministers were arrested and taken to court after the removal of Robert Mugabe from sweet power
almost two years ago.

They were called “criminals surrounding the (ex-) president”. Yet we no longer have any clue on what’s happening to them. But what we know is that their cases
have stalled, save for Samuel Undenge’s, which ended in a conviction for his theft of a mere US$12 000

It’s sad that we are still centuries behind where the courts and corruption are concerned. Take this example. Four centuries ago, there was an English
character called Francis Bacon, who became well-known for taking bribes. Sir Bacon was a philosopher, a diplomat and a lawyer. He was the attorney general and
Lord Chancellor of England when parliament impeached him in the 17th century for taking bribes on at least 28 counts.

Sir Bacon admitted to the charges and he was convicted. You know what happened next? He was released from jail after just a few days and the 40 000 pound fine removed. He had bribed a judge! Here, you get to hear of judges and magistrates being bribed too. But it’s also clear that the judiciary is politically
manipulated. The famed philosopher might now be as dead as bacon and at no time did he ever imagine that Britain would colonise us. But there are unflattering
anecdotes in the story of the courts and corruption in Zimbabwe even now. So you can’t pin your hopes on arrests and prosecution as a sufficient game in the
anti-corruption fight. It’s like removing the snake’s fangs.

You have to look elsewhere for a living solution. The biggest crisis we are suffering right now is the administration’s incapacity to understand that in order
to sustainably fight corruption, you musn’t use hotchpotch methods. You must have a good strategy. And a good strategy doesn’t entail the optics of the catch-
and-release tactic. It requires that you consider the problem of corruption more holistically.

Strategies are complex things to talk about, so you don’t want to swamp the damp post-Mugabe administration with all the fine detail about it. Save to say the
establishment must seriously look at the root causes of corruption, otherwise it would have to be spending whole national budgets building jails for the next
half-century, assuming it will still be in power then.

The administration must know that corruption, as it manifests in Zimbabwe, as in most of the developing south, is a complicated problem whose roots are mainly
political and economic. That means you must fix the politics and the economy and then add the jails as a bonus. The best place to start is the political
systems. You don’t often hear people talk about why and how it’s possible for a cabinet minister to interfere with subsidiary departments and make mega-
millions for years without central government picking that up outside a forensic audit.

The systems are in bad shape and it seems as though those that must strengthen them deliberately leave things like that. There is need to strengthen
transparency and accountability mechanisms. It must be clear who is doing what and whose responsibility falls where. There has been talk of a public service
corporate governance framework before. It was reported at one time that government had adopted one. But that can’t be the case, because public entities are
hardly governed by any framework.

A minister can still order a parastatal to release money to her bank account or something like that. You remember the case of Jorum Gumbo when he was Transport
minister before President Emmerson Mnangagwa brought him under his office? He routinely ordered the Zimbabwe National Roads Administration to give him money
for transport for foreign and local destinations even though he was supposed to draw those expenses from his ministry’s vote. He walks scot-free today and
works close to the president.

And even where there are systems in place, there is no political will to monitor, evaluate and supervise them. That’s why, everyday, we hear of companies being
awarded contracts without going to tender. All the big guys are busy doing that. They know what the next guy is doing, so they will keep doing it and those that must take action can’t because they are also in and they know what they are doing is known by the others.

The post-colonial state in Zimbabwe inherited the cultures of nepotism and cronyism from the coloniser and perfected them. The twin evil is corruption in itself, but the combination begets further corruption that becomes difficult to remove. You see, if you give your sister’s son a job in government, several
things will happen. The nephew will spend most of his time drinking tea and his bosses will be too afraid to bring him to order. But because those junior
bosses know that their senior boss is a nepostic pig, they will also become ones whenever they have the chance. That’s happening everyday in Zimbabwe. But the
bosses’ relatives who would have been undeserved jobs will talk to their friends who will bribe the bosses to also get jobs. At the same time, those that gave
each other jobs will protect each other from punishment by nosy outsiders. The chain goes like that.

Cronyism and nepotism wear another bad cloak within the ruling elite. That is where election into office is concerned. Those that are let to contest for
office, and those that get into office, are hardly deserving candidates. They are the relatives, friends and mistresses of the game makers. These, too, have
their own relatives, friends, mistresses, husbands and boyfriends. The chain continues like that. Because they got into office through the backdoor, they are
in perpetual backdoor mode. Worse still, they are already corrupt by the time they are corruptly allowed into office.

In the same context, the Mnangagwa administration must honestly, seriously and persistently deal with the problem of the coup. The November 2017 coup was a
power takeover based on cronyism and nepotism. It was not about freeing the nation from Mugabe’s rotten rule. It was about factional cronies giving each other
power. And, consequently, that military-civilian regime that then christened itself the new dispensation developed a sense of “it’s our thing”. So, naturally,
that sense of entitlement is driving corruption as those that actively pushed Mugabe out want every piece and crumb on the table and are eating the waiters

That aside, there is an unquestionable correlation between democracy and openness on one, and levels of corruption on the other hand, Zimbabwe is not the most
democratic country in the world. It won’t surprise you, therefore, that it’s a very corrupt society.

This is where the poison sits. You can arrest people as much as you want. But it won’t work if you don’t address the underlying issues.

Tawanda Majoni is the national coordinator at Information for Development Trust and can be contacted on majonitt@gmail.com


  • comment-avatar
    Mbokochena 2 years ago

    I appreciate the frustration with, and the concerns we have regarding the fight against Corruption.
    However, I really think we are placing this task in the hands of the incapable, and therefore wasting our hope or expectations. The ED/Military Regime is not capable of dealing with this issue because the Military-Lacoste conflation is built on the foundations of corruption.

    Firstly, Anyone who has read the UN report on the plundering and looting of DRC diamonds will know the guys who were involved in that raid, the COSLEG GANG. They made money at an individual level riding on the blood and sweat of sons and daughters of Zimbabwe who died for nothing in that useless war. They made millions, which ideally should have gone to the State.
    Secondly, when they were dealing with diamonds from DRC, they established links and illicit markets to trade in blood diamonds and became experts on that front. We then had the misfortune of DeBeers fields being “discovered” in what is popularly known as Chiadzwa Diamonds. Many sons and daughters of Zimbabwe were killed on those diamond fields when they were just trying to make a living out of what the gods had given them. And guess who took the lead in looting and trading in those diamonds? The Lacoste/Junta conflation. Planes were smuggling diamonds directly from Chiadzwa to Israel, Dubai and China. It was the same Cosleg gang that had tasted the diamonds money from DRC! I don’t have to mention that 15bill disappeared, right?

    Now lets go to Gold panning in the midlands? Who is the Godfather of illegal gold Business there and controls the small scale miners? You all know the answer. The guy and his sidekick Mudha are serious gold smugglers and a corrupt lot.

    So. you still expect the leaders in corruption to solve the corruption problem in Zimbabwe? We are not going anywhere with these guys in charge. Lets just forget about it. Yes, a few unfortunate small fish will be chosen as sacrificial lamps…most likely on factionalism basis. But the real Cosleg will continue to plunder. Now they are in fuel with Tagwirei and Trafigura. Hatisati tatanga!

  • comment-avatar
    Nyoni 2 years ago

    You mention the thugs have perfected the colonisers methods . So the liberation war was fought by those sons and daughters for a mere price like blood for people like you know who to enjoy while the rest suffer. For sure life is a croc. !!!