Govt must decisively address corruption

Source: Govt must decisively address corruption – NewsDay Zimbabwe July 14, 2016

When former minister of education Edmund Garwe committed suicide in 2001 after his child had had access to exam papers years earlier, I was happy for a moment. May his dear soul rest in eternal peace. I was not happy because I enjoy death, but happy that at least there were people in influential positions, whose moral compass was still functioning, he was remorseful and embarrassed with the developments. He knew that the whole education system, his own integrity, the integrity of Zimbabwe, and integrity of whomsoever was to come after him was going to be seriously compromised. It would have given an impression that this was the calibre of ministers and government officials we have. I felt some confidence and for a moment, I thought, perhaps we still have ministers, who take it as their business to maintain and retain public confidence in their work.

Kudzai Kwangwari

My views were changed after a number of cases involving ministers and other senior government officials’ conduct, which pointed to complete lack of moral fibre and the required minimum level of transparency and uprightness. One of the key principles and values of occupying public office is that one should not only be upright and honest, but must also be perceived to be so. The moment the public, you must serve, begin to doubt your integrity, then the whole system is compromised, for perception remains reality, until proven otherwise. Former Finance minister Tendai Biti lists lack of public confidence and disregard for social contract as one of the key causes of the crisis Zimbabwe finds itself in, and all public officials must ensure that this confidence is always there and maintained.
Now, with what we have witnessed in the last decade, especially in the last three years, regarding corrupt practices involving ministers, for instance Energy minister Samuel Undenge, ICT minister Supa Mandiwanzira, Local Government minister Saviour Kasukuwere, Health minister David Parirenyatwa and vice-president Phelekezela Mphoko, to name a few, one wonders how many times Garwe would have died if it was him? If a whole minister can pay his own company in advance before a job is done, when the same ministry is failing to pay for some jobs that have already been completed, what must we think? If a whole minister gives himself a loan of close to $200 000 and still maintains that its “mere $200 000”, what must we think in an economy that is failing to provide basics in hospitals?
Undenge failed to do due diligence in following procedure when making a payment to Wicknell Chivayo’s firm and miraculously discovered that his (Undenge’s) account had been credited with thousands from an unknown source? Is this the service we require from a government for the people by the people? We will not mention the $15 billion President Robert Mugabe made reference to in passing, as if it’s a non-issue, when it is actually equivalent to budgets for three years for this country.

Is Mugabe still in charge? Is he aware of all this mess happening in our country, at the expense of citizens, who have to survive like orphans? Where is Kasukuwere getting money to build what looks like a personal “small Harare”? Why can we not investigate Kasukuwere, for instance, to establish his earnings in terms of salary, his businesses, if any, and whether he pays tax regularly like the rest of us?

The Auditor-General, Mildred Chiri, a brave woman by the way, has been producing very useful reports pointing to corrupt tendencies and abuse of office in government departments, parastatals, and local authorities, but there has been no action at all as if she reports to no one. Why has there been no action when facts and figures tell the whole story of corruption? Only last week, she produced three reports and in one of them she unearthed some obnoxious practices, which cannot pass a test even in hell. Are we going to see Mugabe acting on these reports’ recommendations? We wonder. In the first place, why further waste state resources on audits, whose reports are not useful?

If Mugabe does not take a decisive action on these reports, then it’s up to us Zimbabweans to either patiently wait for 2018 and fire Mugabe and his cabinet or act now. There is no better way of endorsing corruption than taking no action when evidence is there to prove that there has been a clear manipulation of the system for self-aggrandisement. Does Mugabe act only when someone is perceived to have violated party policy, as if everything is and must be about his party?

Suspending someone with pay and all attendant benefits, as was the case with Zimra Commissioner General, Gershom Pasi is not adequate. Zimbabweans need to see some punitive measures taken so that the punishments act as a deterrent to would-be criminals. We want to see a minister serving a sentence, even community service, for their crimes. That way, it will instil public confidence; an issue that has “eaten” the whole substance of the social contract between the governors and the governed.

The recent protests witnessed in various parts of this country are a sign that Zimbabweans have been pushed to the corner and they are no longer afraid and are tired of the regime. This is likely to worsen and culminate into serious civil unrest of huge proportions. Reports that the parliamentary portfolio committee, which intended to investigate certain areas, was stopped because of fears that it would have touched a raw nerve, including relatives of the First Family, just add insult to injury. We need to act today for a different Zimbabwe tomorrow. There is need to reclaim Zimbabwe from Mugabe and his cronies, who are treating this country as private property.
My appeal, therefore, to all Zimbabweans in whatever space you are, is; please do something to save Zimbabwe. We cannot have a situation where citizens resort to own means for survival, including for utilities and infrastructure, which government must provide, as we pay tax daily. Let’s act.

l Kudzai Kwangwari writes in personal capacity and can be reached on kkudzai@gmail.com. 

COMMENTS

WORDPRESS: 2
  • comment-avatar
    Mukanya 6 years ago

    How can the government be decisive when the head itself is rotten?

  • comment-avatar
    william mills 6 years ago

    No indigenous African government that ever existed has been seriously interested in addressing corruption. African governments are experts at developing ‘patronage opportunities’ and these are accessed via corruption. This is as it always been and always will be. If one is to do business in Africa one must be able to successfully negotiate the patronage opportunity field. The key is to screw the workers and consumers by bribing the leaders thereby making it possible to make a small profit. The best one can hope for is that some of the acumen used in collecting patronage will someday be used for managing the fundamental utilities required of a modern economy, eg: power, fuel, water, transportation etc., without looting them. Keep on hoping non-indigents that’s pretty much all you have left…..