Mnangagwa must walk the talk on graft

Source: Mnangagwa must walk the talk on graft | The Standard (Editorial)

One of the reasons former president Robert Mugabe’s forced departure was met with wild celebrations was because during his torturous rule, lack of respect for the rule of law and impunity had become the new normal.

Mugabe allowed corruption to flourish and nurtured a class of untouchables, who appeared to be above the law.

Under his leadership, the law was applied selectively and Zanu PF officials could loot and even kill with impunity.

From the Willogate scandal to the looting of farming implements sourced through the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe, the culprits were shielded by the state and continued to feed from the trough.

Since the Gukurahundi massacres, Zanu PF connected people had the licence to kill and considered themselves to be above the law.

Mugabe allowed people to steal, practise nepotism, torture fellow citizens and to kill in his name as long as it furthered his long cherished dream to rule this country forever.

However, nothing lasts forever and Mugabe learnt that lesson the hard way when his enforcers turned against him, leading to the humiliating exit that has dominated world news headlines for a fortnight now.

On Friday, Emmerson Mnangagwa, a lieutenant of the former president for the past 52 years, took over the reins of power and promised a clean break from his mentor’s disastrous rule.

He specifically mentioned corruption as an issue that needed urgent attention and that must have been sweet music to the ears of millions of Zimbabweans that cannot get decent jobs because Zanu PF destroyed the economy by allowing graft to flourish at an industrial scale.

Mnangagwa is going to be judged based on the way he delivers on the bold commitments he made at his inauguration before an expectant crowd.

Former Finance minister Ignatius Chombo, who has over the years been accused of corruption, but remained untouchable because of his close relationship with Mugabe, appears to be the first target of that clean-up promised by the new president after he was charged yesterday.

His arrest must provide the new administration with a lot of lessons on how not to go about the fight against corruption. For the process to remain credible, it is paramount that the rule of law is followed in bringing the culprits to book.

Torture and arbitrary arrests have no place in the new Zimbabwe that Mnangagwa promised. Suspects must be presumed innocent until proven guilty.

The crusade against corruption should not be used to settle Zanu PF factional scores and there must be no sacred cows.

Zimbabweans expect the president to walk the talk and dealing with the crimes of the past must remain on top of his agenda as he completes Mugabe’s term.