Source: Corruption: Time to walk the talk | The Herald September 15, 2016
Victoria Ruzvidzo:Business Focus
VICE President Emmerson Mnangagwa was frothing at the mouth as he spoke against corruption on Tuesday. His message was clear: It is time we abandon lip service to fighting corruption and start acting decisively to eradicate, or at least ameliorate the vice, whose grip on the economy is quite lethal.In an interview with one of our prolific writers Lovemore Mataire on Tuesday, VP Mnangagwa did not mince his words.
“This country needs to fight corruption and this cancer should not be the responsibility of one institution. I think we need to psyche up the entire nation to fight corruption wherever it rears its head. From what we hear, what we gather, and what is published in newspapers, it seems it has taken root and requires ruthlessness. It will be very hard but it’s necessary and good for the country,” he said.
This strong warning should be heeded and we certainly hope that these words will indeed be followed by action. Such commitment from the top will obviously need to be taken seriously. This resonates with what President Mugabe has also said about corruption and its cost to the economy.
Fears that Zimbabwe could have lost $15 billion in potential revenue from diamonds and that at least $1,8 billion is lost annually through illicit financial flows should nudge the responsible authorities into action.
It is prudent to look at the definition of corruption so we can appreciate what it is about. Certain malpractices have almost become normal and considered legitimate and yet they are not.
Some scholars define corruption as illegitimate use of power to benefit a private interest (Morris 1991).
Another researcher Ozochukwu posits that corruption is the giving of bribe by a person to an official so that the truth will not be told. It involves the embezzlement of public funds for personal use.
The above definitions illustrate how corruption is entrenched in both public and private systems.
This country is endowed with natural resources such as minerals and rich soils while the skills are there but these do not yield much because of the high levels of corruption which deny the economy a chance to rise and be well again.
Auditor General Ms Mildred Chiri has repeatedly revealed serious corruption cases across ministries in which Government has been prejudiced of millions of dollars but her yearly reports have largely been ignored. We have not heard much about how these cases were handled.
But we must applaud her for she does not feel intimidated or discouraged by the inaction and continues to expose the growing levels of corruption in this country.
The resources her team uses when doing the audits are obviously going to waste if the information is not used to rid the Government institutions and departments of the rot.
But persist she must!
Indeed the effects of corruption to Zimbabwe’s socio-economic development are well documented. So many cases have been highlighted over the years, while some have been swept under the carpet, we are made to believe, but the perpetrators in most instances have remained untouched.
We sincerely hope that action will now be taken as pledged by VP Mnangagwa so that the culprits are dealt with and the economy is rescued from the effects of this vice.
Zimbabwe and Africa at large lose billions of dollars every year due to corruption in its various forms. In fact corruption ranks high as one of the worst malpractices that constrict economic growth and development .
While leakages can be quantified in dollar terms to some extent, much more is lost through potential trade and investment deals that do not see the light of day due to corruption as greediness and self-centredness creep into the public and private sectors.
Investors or potential business partners are made to pay frightening sums of money which scare them away most times while in some instances individuals pocket more than what ultimately benefits the economy as corruptions rears its ugly head oft times.
So much has been said on the need to stem this cancer but it has largely been mere talk and very little action. It has become commonplace that cases of corruption are raised but they fizzle out after a few days and no decisive action is taken.
Presenting his Mid-Term Fiscal Policy last Thursday, Finance and Economic Development Minister Patrick Chinamasa also lamented the effects of corruption on the economy.
He said corruption was stifling growth, revenue mobilisation and scaring away investors at a time the country needed every cent it could get.
He prescribed the urgent establishment of robust systems and mechanisms to bust corruption, stressing that presently, the Government was not doing much to deal with the scourge decisively.
“Corruption is an additional cost to doing business. It scares away potential investors, represents a leakage of resources from the mainstream economy and deprives Government of much needed fiscal resources,” said Minister Chinamasa.
The quotation above sums it all. The economy cannot progress in an environment of high corruption. The revision of economic growth figures from 2,7 percent to 1,2 percent also had a lot to do with the high corruption levels. Zimbabwe can afford double-digit growth levels were it not for corruption and its attendant challenges that suffocate efforts to turn around the economy.
Africa has had to grapple with the vice for too long.
“This bad act called corruption has made Africa to be in the state of dwarfism. It has made her to be in the state of stunted growth,” concluded one analyst in a paper on corruption on the continent.
A survey done in 2014 showed that half of the 10 most corrupt nations were in Africa, with Somalia leading the pack. Indeed corruption “is a complex issue with a vast array of determinants and effects that are often context and country specific”.
Corruption is actually considered a weapon against Africa’s growth and prosperity.
A 2002 African Union study estimated that corruption costs the continent roughly $150 billion a year.
To compare, developed countries gave $22,5 billion in aid to Sub-Saharan Africa in 2008, according to the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development.
Some economists, says author Stephanie Hanson, argue that African governments need to fight corruption instead of relying on foreign aid. But anti-corruption efforts on the continent have shown mixed results in recent years, and analysts fear that major international partners are unwilling to exert leverage over African governments.
“An initiative for transparency in the extractive industries shows promise, but is mostly untested. Some experts suggest African interest in attracting foreign investment will serve to spur more substantive efforts to fight corruption.”
For Zimbabwe, the message by VP Mnangagwa gives us hope that the fight against the scourge is not a lost cause after all. We are more than ready to see the perpetrators eat the fruit of their hands.
In God I Trust!