via Walk the talk on corruption – NewsDay Zimbabwe September 1, 2015
YESTERDAY, Africa’s richest man, Aliko Dangote and a delegation from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) jetted in on separate missions.
While IMF has had several missions into the country in the past few years, it is Dangote’s arrival that is cause for optimism. Dangote has invested heavily in a number of countries, including neighbours Zambia, but had so far given Zimbabwe a wide berth.
Dangote yesterday said he wanted to set up an integrated cement plant, the biggest by his group and his mission should be used to illustrate that Zimbabwe is open for business and hopefully lure more investors.
Given the political instability within Zanu PF and government, Dangote should be warned to ensure his mission is transparent or he risks losing out his investment if he is coerced to pour his money through ‘unofficial’ channels.
Our optimism following his mission is tampered with caution, as corruption has scuppered other such deals in the past.
President Robert Mugabe has spoken out against corruption, yet he refuses to walk the talk and unfortunately this has hampered Zimbabwe’s capacity to attract meaningful investment.
Three years ago, Mugabe was fuming and livid after former South African President Thabo Mbeki provided him with evidence that some of his Cabinet ministers had demanded a $10 million bribe to facilitate a $1 billion deal.
Mugabe promised action, but to this day Zimbabweans are still waiting for him to act. What Mugabe has done in the past is to reshuffle his ministers who are implicated in shady deals. The President should know that these piecemeal stop-gap measures are unhelpful to the country and by so doing he seems endorsing high level graft in government.
Ironically, Mugabe has for years claimed that if he was provided with evidence of dishonesty of his bureaucrats he will crack the whip, yet from his track record, it is clear he is either unwilling or unable to tame sleaze.
Several ministers have been implicated in depraved activities, and when confronted with such evidence, Mugabe has instead demanded loyalty.
It is correct to state that what has held back Zimbabwe is not Western sanctions but inertia by people like Mugabe and his inner circle in dealing with venality.
Clearly, Zimbabwe is being held back by greedy elites, who are benefitting from the status quo while the rest of the country suffers. Another example of unbridled greed and corruption is the ghost workers that have become the hallmark of the civil service wage bill.
For years the opposition and the IMF have called on the government to trim the public service and weed out ghost workers. For political expediency, the powers that be have seen it fit to retain the unsustainable wage bill.
With the economy teetering on the brink, we urge the government to be sincere and weed out ghost workers first before any form of rationalisation of the public service.
It is a fact that most ghost workers are linked to Zanu PF and it is time to take the bull by its horns. The government cannot allow such corruption to continue untamed.In his State of the Nation Address last, Mugabe said he would work on tackling corruption, but again we are not overly optimistic.
We believe that all that talk to fighting corruption is all rhetoric meant to appease his followers but without action.
The time for populism is long over and the President must be seen taking action. We hope that the Dangote mission will not be scuppered by bureaucratic bungling or greedy politicians.