EDITORIAL COMMENT: Corruption should be beyond factions

Source: EDITORIAL COMMENT: Corruption should be beyond factions | The Financial Gazette November 3, 2016

THERE has been an unexplained interest in corruption from high-ranking public officials, including service chiefs, in recent days, raising hope that there may be an awakening that the scourge, which has wrecked Zimbabwe’s once-prosperous economy, requires decisive action to eradicate.
Ordinarily, it would be encouraging and gratifying to have people in power becoming outspoken against corruption, which undermines development and ruins economies.
According to Transparency International (TI)’s Corruption Perceptions Index for 2015, Zimbabwe is ranked 150 least corrupt nation out of 175 countries. In other words, it is among the most corrupt countries in the world.
TI suggests that corruption is costing Zimbabwe at least US$1 billion annually. This is a lot of money that can significantly transform the country’s economic fortunes. Corruption has become so entrenched in our politics, government, business and civic institutions that its effects on the struggling economy are obviously dire.
One of the most outrageous acts of corruption in recent history took place at the Marange diamond fields, where, according to President Robert Mugabe, about US$15 billion was lost through pillage of diamonds.
The interesting thing about this massive plunder of national resources was that it involved State actors, among them those that are now clamouring for a clampdown on the vice.
Which raises questions about the sincerity of current public calls against corruption by these people: Are they sincere or they are simply playing to the gallery?
Many perceive the current anti-corruption furore to be linked to the alleged plunder of the Zimbabwe Manpower Development Fund (ZIMDEF) by Higher and Tertiary Education Minister, Jonathan Moyo.
Moyo has defended his use of ZIMDEF money to fund the ruling party’s national programmes, some of which appear to have promoted factional interests within ZANU-PF, as well as to buy bicycles for traditional leaders in his constituency in Tsholotsho. He has, in fact, sought to argue that his actions, which involved his deputy, Godfrey Gandawa, do not necessarily amount to corruption, but were acts of benevolence to develop his downtrodden constituency.
ZIMDEF is meant to fund the development of critical and highly skilled manpower in Zimbabwe. Therefore, Moyo’s use of ZIMDEF money was far from what the fund is meant to achieve and may have been wrong. We hope competent institutions will be allowed to determine this very soon.
But we know he is being hounded by the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission, and the head of the organ’s investigations committee, Goodson Nguni, has taken a keen interest in this case.
Similarly, the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Youth, Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment, led by Justice Mayor Wadyajena, has also taken a keen interest in Moyo’s case. Wadyajena is linked to a rival faction in ZANU-PF, as is Nguni and several top officials, who have now come out to openly condemn corruption.
But the circumstances within which these people have demonstrated sudden  interest in this problem and become outspoken against corruption appears to suggest this may be mere political banter and faction-inspired talk meant to deal with political rivals rather than corruption as a widespread scourge in State institutions.
Commitment in dealing with corruption should be go beyond factional interests if Zimbabwe is to emerge from its current quagmire.