Charamba must zip it, let ZACC expose graft

Source: Charamba must zip it, let ZACC expose graft – NewZimbabwe 08/06/ 2016

IN its ten years of existence, the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (Zacc) has, for the first time, shown its commitment to combating graft and making Zimbabwe a chaste society.

Since September 2005, when Zacc came into being, the anti-graft body has been accused of ineffectiveness and dismissed as a toothless bulldog. Now it has bared its teeth by talking and people’s hopes have been raised; the nation now waits to see action. As Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa said, we must migrate from talking about corruption to acting against it.

According to media reports, Zacc is on a major anti-corruption operation in which senior government officials and businesspeople are under probe for various criminal offences that include fraud, violation of tender procedures and criminal abuse of office among others.

It is an established fact that corruption affects every facet of human life. It is an albatross around government’s neck in its effort to turn around the economy through the Zimbabwe Agenda for Sustainable Socio-Economic Transformation (Zim-Asset).

Corruption hampers economic development. Among some of its evil effects are high prices to consumers, reduced investment which also leads to reduced goods and services and inflation, reduced commitment from donor agencies, reduced foreign direct investment, reduced tax revenue,  government’s inability to finance budget expenditures and improve public infrastructure.

Politically, corruption can lead to lack of respect for leaders. People are currently demanding the 2.2 million jobs promised by President Mugabe’s government’s Zim-Asset blue print. While the President had a noble vision for the country, corruption among other impediments is grossly hampering the attainment of such goals. People vote for a candidate or party basing on their faith in them. Any association with the endemic vice can lead to loss of faith and trust in government, candidate or party.

As such, the fight against corruption must be everybody’s battle. The anti-graft body must be empowered and supported to exercise its constitutional mandate without any hindrance from anyone. It is an established fact that no society can completely rid itself of the cancerous vice but with every citizen’s support, it can be drastically reduced.

The recent anti-corruption blitz triggered shocking reactions from some people least expected to respond that way. The Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Information Media and Broadcasting Services who also doubles as the Presidential spokesperson, George Charamba, slammed Zacc, accusing them of behaving “like a rattlesnake which makes a lot of noise before striking.” He said Zacc must not have rushed to the media before thorough investigations to get sufficient evidence.

With all due respect, Charamba was offside and his utterances border on interference with Zacc’s constitutional mandate. Instead of being angry with the perpetrators of corruption, he vented his anger on those who are trying to combat it. He raised a number of issues which lack reasonable judgment. He spoke with appalling conviction that Zacc rushed to the media with weak evidence. Charamba behaves like he is the accounting officer to whom ZACC reports. Otherwise, how would he know that the commission had weak evidence? It is dangerous and reckless for the permanent secretary to use the case of ZBC as a benchmark to dismiss all cases before the anti-graft body.

Charamba wants Zacc to first approach the parent ministries of the parastatals being probed. The secretary seems to be oblivious to the reality that corruption is now a red button issue in Zimbabwe which no longer requires business as usual approach. According to the 2015 corruption perception index reported by Transparency International, Zimbabwe was ranked 150 out of 167 in the corruption rank of the most corrupt countries. With such a record, the commission has to be aggressive in its approach rather than take the Charamba way with its characteristic red tape.

The fact that the investigating officer, a Servious Kufandada, has got a perceived tainted past is neither here nor there. What matters most is not the political allegiance of the source of information or investigators. Even if it means the assistance to get rid of corruption is coming from the devil, let it be. Does it mean Zacc must ignore all leads that come from members of the opposition parties? Charamba should have carefully read the emotional reactions of the multitudes at the Million-Man March when Kudzai Chipanga spoke about corruption in the high places.

There is a national consensus that the nation must be purged of this evil practice. The Chinese and other Arab countries execute perpetrators of corruption and people are now even prepared to adopt that cultural dispensation. They are justified because corruption has a strong potential to steal the wealth of a nation and impoverish its people. It is a strong constraint on economic growth and the more corrupt a country is, the lower its economic growth rate.

The way Charamba fights in the corner of the ZBC acting Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Patrick Mamvura, raises questions. Charamba is not a Judge who exonerates suspects. He must stop declaring innocence on a person who does not stay in his pocket 24/7. Charamba is not Mamvura’s attorney. Moreover, the Permanent Secretary shall also have his day with investigators concerning PSMAS funds. Mamvura must defend himself and justice must be allowed to take its course. The Shona elders would say hakuna mushonga unonamira pasina chironda. Let the natural justice clear Mamvura and all those who have been fingered.

It is the watchdog role of the media to expose corruption. Lessons on how and from whom the media should get information must be held in abeyance at this juncture. The civil servants within Zacc are rich sources of news as well. If these civil servants are not the voices of the commission as Charamba put it, then what’s all the hullaballoo about? Why is Zacc being attacked when the information is not coming from them? Charamba is responding to the unofficial voice of Zacc through the same channel that he is condemning. Isn’t that hypocrisy?

The public must be in the know of what Zacc is doing so that when nothing happens, the people will be able to ask for explanations. Carrying out investigations secretly defeats the essence of transparency and exposes investigators to bribery. Zimra and the Auditor General conduct the same raids with no outcry.

Charamba also said the planting of stories in the media by Zacc was meant to cause chaos in government. This is not the first time such threatening statements have been made when corruption is exposed. In 2014, former Vice President, Joice Mujuru, blasted the media for reporting on corruption in which board members and CEOs paid themselves filthy allowances and salaries at ZBC and the Public Service Medical Aid Society (PSMAS). Ironically, Charamba was directly or indirectly involved in these two organizations and only God knows if he is clean.

“The issue that we are discussing regarding corruption in parastatals is the way of bringing about regime change in the country. They know what is at stake and important roles parastatals play. They are saying from ZBC we are going to Zesa then ZINWA. Those people do not belong to Zanu PF but are snakes in the grass bent on destroying the party from within.

“What we are saying is let the Office of the President handle the matter. These cases cannot be solved in the newspapers because the way they treat it in newspapers point to an agenda to topple government and the ruling party Zanu PF,” said Mujuru.

History has the habit of repeating itself. These are the same arguments that are found in Charamba’s statement. It was later revealed that Mujuru may have been involved in a corruption scandal. For instance, a report conducted by the National Economic Conduct Inspectorate revealed that Mujuru was paid $11 000 as allowances by ZISCO subsidiary in Botswana. Hopefully, that’s where she will differ from Charamba.

Those who were fingered in the graft are also trying to hide behind the finger. They allege that they are innocent victims of factional wars in Zanu PF. This is a flimsy excuse. If they are innocent souls being unduly targeted, then they must not worry, for they will surely come out clean. The public has been viewing some of them through distrustful lenses. Instead of living with the corrupt labels tagged on them, they must be happy that they have been given a platform to clear themselves. The justice system of this country is very effective and it shall set them free. In any case, the Sunday Mail story clearly stated that “some of the executives interviewed by Zacc are not necessarily offenders.”

Professor Jonathan Moyo, Saviour Kasukuwere, Mandi Chimene and Sarah Mahoka, among others, have been viewed as the architects of the so-called G40 group. If the blitz was a factional campaign targeting this group, these comrades should have topped the list. There is nothing factional about this blitz. The comrades must not forget that Zacc is a commission in the President’s Office and I suppose he is privy to and supportive of the campaign, for he has always emotionally spoken against the vice. Unless we say the President is a factionalist, he would not wink at the supposed systematic persecution of his ‘supporters.’

The comrades must carry their own crosses and leave the good names of President Mugabe and the First Lady out of their chicanery. The First Lady is not stupid. If somebody funded her rallies in the hope that they would get protection from her, then it is unfortunate. You cannot cleanse your ill-gotten money that way. Even if the anti-corruption campaign is blighted by political interests, the most important question is whether these comrades are clean.

COMMENTS

WORDPRESS: 3
  • comment-avatar
    Joe Cool 6 years ago

    This was an extremely long article to say something very simple – Chiramba is a fool. We all know it.

  • comment-avatar
    Nyoni 6 years ago

    Charamba the maramba , what are you catching. A sign of dementia setting in or simply foolishness . Come on wake up you maramba.

  • comment-avatar
    Doris 6 years ago

    Manheru is not capable of zipping it. He is far too fond of his own voice. Pity because only s…..t comes out of his mouth.