Corruption is so serious it stopped being funny, then became funny again. This is the feeling one gets after reading a story we carried yesterday on Zimbabwe National Road Administration directors who got US$8 000 each, in a year, as hairstyle allowance.
Here’s the funny part: it would have been cheaper to get a whole hair transplant.
While the cost of a hair transplant varies greatly and depends on several factors, according to Medical News, the procedure can cost between US$4 000 and US$15 000.
Transport and Infrastructural Development Minister Joel Biggie Matiza appeared before Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee on Monday, to give evidence on an audit report prepared by Auditor-General Mrs Mildred Chiri, when it emerged that more than US$60 000 was also spent on hairstyle allowance with one boutique pocketing more than US$25 000 for having done the hair of Zinara female managers.
Zinara has been paying two salaries for two chief executive officers for the past 12 months, while thousands of United States dollars were spent on hairstyle, food hampers, and gym allowances for managers, legislators heard.
The agency also spent US$4 000 on each director in buying and installing gym equipment at their residences, but then went on to pay monthly subscriptions for their gym at upmarket clubs in Harare.
Forget the hair transplant: for the taxpayer, a brain transplant would — in the long run — have been way, way cheaper.
Zinara has been wriggling in corruption ever since inception in 2002. We cannot avoid asking whether Zimbabwe really needs such a scandal machine.
The main function of Zinara, according to the agency’s website, is to manage road funds and disburse for approved road maintenance works and other activities, to road authorities or other deserving organisations including Traffic Safety Council and Vehicle Inspection Department.
How difficult can that be? Collecting and disbursing road tax. Does anyone need to look good to perform such a function? And have to be so fit they need not one, but two gyms.
We urge Minister Matiza — who is the new broom trying to sweep the historical dirt — to find a lasting solution to the rot at Zinara. Rules are needed to keep officials in check. Our prisons and correctional system can easily come in handy. Minister after minister has come, but the problem has still not been solved.
The spirit of the Second Republic should guide not only Minister Matiza, but all other ministers with Government agencies and parastatals under their jurisdiction.
Let’s walk the talk on corruption.
Parliament also needs to self-introspect.
There is a huge difference between oversight and a talk show. What happens to those proved to be corrupt? Laws must be made to deter would-be offenders and rid us of malcontents.
The same can also be said to Auditor-General Chiri. All those reports exposing corruption cannot be allowed to go to waste.
Mrs Chiri is doing a great job, but the results are yet to be seen. The results are handcuffs and leg irons.
The Transitional Stabilisation Programme (TSP) is a brilliant roadmap towards achieving Vision 2030.
The TSP was launched in October last year by Finance and Economic Development Minister Professor Mthuli Ncube and is running up to December 2020, by which time it should have provided a firm foundation for the attainment of an upper middle income status economy as expounded by President Mnangagwa.
The TSP proffers policy interventions to build investor confidence and enable private sector led economic growth.
However, this can only be achieved if corruption is arrested and all arms of the State play their part.
No investor can take Zimbabwe seriously if we do not take ourselves seriously.
The World Bank Group considers corruption a major challenge to its twin goals of ending extreme poverty by 2030 and boosting shared prosperity for the poorest 40 percent of people in developing countries.
We all have a collective responsibility of reviving our economy and building the Zimbabwe we all want.
Together we must identify priorities, problems and find solutions.
There is no shortage of judicious leaders in Zimbabwe.
Let those with the interests of the country at heart run our institutions and not those who just want to pamper themselves.
Those who want to get rich quick should start their own companies where they can have as many allowances as they want.