Greed Corruption and Transparency - Eddie Cross

Greed Corruption and Transparency – Eddie Cross

via Eddie Cross, Bulawayo, 24th January 2014 

Sometimes living in Zimbabwe is like living in a mental asylum where the inmates are in charge. Just yesterday we learned that the Chief Executive of a local medical aid society (PMAS) has been paying himself US$200 000 a month. In all the top 8 executives in this cash strapped, highly indebted institution, that is months behind in paying the medical profession that serves its members, over US$1 million a month in basic salaries. This implies that their total packages may be worth significantly more than this.

This news was accompanied by a story that the Board of the PMAS was going to “slash” his salary to US$60 000 a month – in itself an outrageous amount for a small organisation that cannot pay its way. In fact just recently we discovered that the State Broadcasting Corporation was paying its CEO a package of US$40 000 a month and that sparked outrage across the country as the ZBC had not paid its staff for months. I am told that this state of affairs prevails across the Board in Government institutions and parastatals.

We are a very poor country with a GDP of about US$16 billion – that’s about $100 a month for the average person. Here we have one individual paying himself 2000 times that as a basic wage! How do the guys at the bottom on less than $30 a month (over half the population) think about that? I know there is an outcry about the salaries and bonuses of Executives of banks in Europe – but they are dealing with organisations that employ hundreds of thousands and turnover billions on a daily basis. They also carry risk and must bear responsibility for decisions that affect whole countries – not some upgraded administrator in a tiny organisation that is in the service sector and is simply collecting fees and paying for medical services.

But this is the tip of the iceberg, just drive around the wealthy suburbs of Harare and you would think you were in Hollywood – not some low income, Fourth World State where half the population is close to starvation. Where are our socialists in all this, who is working for a more equitable world? The answer is very few. Africa, the poorest continent in the world, has created many billionaires – most of them live in a murky world of clandestine deals and trades. Oprah Winfrey may well be challenged for the top spot as the wealthiest woman in the world by the daughter of the President of Angola although her wealth and status is unlikely to see the light of day anytime soon.

Then there is the scourge of corruption in Africa. There is corruption everywhere but no other continent has been infected by this particular disease on such a scale and in proportion to its wealth and production. Transparency International estimates that corrupt transfers out of Africa far exceed the total value of all foreign aid to the continent (AID is about US$40 billion a year). Others estimate that the leadership of Angola misappropriates a third of gross oil receipts. In a recent scam in Nigeria one company was responsible for the theft of $6,9 billion in oil revenues. Even on a global basis these are staggering sums of money.

In Zimbabwe, prior to the formation of the National Government in 2009, the majority Party and its acolytes were stealing US$1,6 billion year from the State in all its many forms and was stripping the agricultural industry in a State sponsored looting spree of many billions dollars worth of assets accumulated over the previous 100 years by dint of hard work and enterprise by thousands of ordinary people and businessmen. Then when the criminal elite in our midst discovered alluvial diamonds in the Marange area, the system went into overdrive. In a feeding frenzy that would rival a flock of vultures anywhere, they descended on this particular carcass and in 6 years stripped it of an estimated $12 billion in raw diamonds that flooded the world market.

Despite all the rhetoric about transparency and accountability and all the evidence of the Zimbabwean presence in the world market (experts say we supply 30 per cent of global demand in a market worth $20 billion a year), not one cent was paid to the Exchequer in 2013 and the Minister has not provided for a dime to be received in 2014. Private jets fly into the air base in Harare or land at the sophisticated facilities in Marange, they do not clear Zimbabwe customs or emigration and they refuse to allow our Tax Authorities access. How can such a situation persist in any sane country? There is no doubt in my mind, Zimbabwe is a nuthouse.

The truth is that no country can develop if it indulges in such practices. Yet what can its people do to bring these crazy practices under greater control and limit the drain on our hard won economic output? Democracy is supposed to curb these gross violations of a countries wealth. But to be frank, democracy in most African countries is a joke. Hard men and women are in charge and they keep the general population is a state of serfdom. Like European feudal Lords of earlier centuries, they live like Kings in palaces and flaunt their wealth and power, robbing the very poor of their surplus and livelihood.

We need a revolution.

They know how to play the game and they treat the major nations of the world with studied distain. North Korea knows that the west, China and the South will feed their people on a humanitarian basis while they concentrate their own resources on weapons and the military and on a life style that they hide with great success behind the motes that surround their homes. African States work on the need for stability and offer this in place of real democracy and the rule of law. When their real interests are challenged, they move swiftly to defend their “sovereignty” and independence. The welfare of their countries and their people seldom factor in their deliberations or plans.

So we have the General Assembly of the United Nations giving the man who slaughtered hundreds of thousands Ugandans, Idi Amin, a standing ovation when he walked into the hall. Similar slavish recognition is given to tyrants on many other occasions. Seldom do we see such tyrants arrested at the airport and brought to justice. Even then the justice metered out is a mockery of real due process – just take the current Court Case in the Hague for the men who engineered the murder of a leader in Lebanon – US$387 million and ten years of legal process, still no live bodies and a Court room full of Judges and lawyers on US$500 a day per diems, plus expenses. If they had live bodies, they would be accommodated in cells that resemble a five star hotel room with all amenities while their victims lie in unmarked graves in distant lands or their economic victims starve in a refugee camp or shack dwellings in an overcrowded slum.

One solution is greater transparency and here we must applaud the local media for publishing these obscene salaries in the daily press. They should now move on other subjects of a similar nature. Of a Reserve bank Governor who owed the banks he supervised tens of millions of dollars and used his powers to punish banks that attempted to collect from him. Of new farmers who not only occupy farms they acquired illegally but compounded this with millions of dollars of equipment supplied to them by the Reserve Bank or the Ministry of Agriculture. Of Ministries who have been hiding over expenditure by buying on credit from the private sector and then refusing to acknowledge the debt or simply ignoring the liabilities.

What about a Minister of Mines (now Transport) who suddenly becomes (overnight) the largest road haulage contractor in Zimbabwe, the owner of a bank, the publisher of a daily newspaper, the owner of many buildings and lodges and hotels as well as farms and massive cattle holdings, all on a salary of $2500 a month. What about a Minister of Local Government who suddenly owns hundreds of properties in many towns and cities, plus expensive cars and homes. What about the diamond moguls who own luxury properties in foreign cities, buy airbus jets and others and who own significant and expensive real estate in South Africa. What about the hundreds of people who fly to Dubai on short “shopping” trips like you or I would catch a mini bus to a local supermarket.

Greed and Corruption make a very nasty brew, one that can only thrive and grow in the dark. We need light in these dark places and must remember that light always defeats darkness. When we discover what is being done to us, we then need a democratic revolution to sweep away the debris and bring in a new generation that will restore sanity to our public affairs.

Eddie Cross
Bulawayo, 24th January 2014


  • comment-avatar
    John Thomas 4 years

    Nothing new here. The MDC in both of it’s variants is little different. Nearly all Zimbabwean politicals are in it for what they can get. In 34 years ZANU has proved it cannot govern. Morgan has proven that he is corrupt having already cost millions in housing and vehicles and other expenses. His incompetence is displayed on an very regular basis. Tsvangirai is a serial miscalculator. The authors own party has shown itself to be full of mercenary turncoats. The people of this country have proven that they are not able to rule themselves except in the way we are now ruled. A large portion of the population, even those who do not support ZANU, support the most damaging policies. This will eventually change, but for now, if you live here, get used to it.

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      tsuro magena 4 years

      Tsvee nyaya irikutaurwa nange Na Tsvangson, uri Mr John Thomas chaiye or its Zanu spook? This is only throwing spanners on the issues raised, issues of governance and accountability which we should rally behind.

      “This will eventually change, but for now, if you live here, get used to it.” -allow me to suspect that you are one of the people who are enjoying “for now”

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    Peter tosh 4 years

    John Thomas,the problem I have with you is that you attack tswangirai as if he is Zimbabwe,no.Edie saying the truth that you know who the biggest energy of the people is but you want to choose to blame the one who trying to free you from these vultures.If you don’t like the way things are happening,why don’t you openly oppose the system and let’s see if you can stand the beatings like Edie and Tswangirai? You only want to be on the sideline not even on the substitute bench to be thrown into the frail later.

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    die groot wyt aap 4 years

    Rhodesia had good “governance and accountability”, but you and your comrades weren’t happy with that even though the life expectancy of a black Rhodesian was twice that of a black Zimbabwean, and so was their standard of living.

    “Colonial liberator” ideology says “a party once in power remains in power until removed by force.”

    Slaap lekker comrades, slaap lekker.

    Good night Sally Donaldson, where ever you are.

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    Rukweza 4 years

    Zimbabweans always compare themselves with south africans forgetting that they are worse than south africa,we deserve the suffering a docile lot

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    Agog 4 years

    Hoping for transparency and democratic accountability in this country is all well and good but it is a feudal system. On that point EC is correct. It took hundreds of years to defeat the feudal system. That is why the French Revolution is still a central topic in history syllabi. It’s each for himself in this Orwellian world called Zim. Change will not come in our lifetimes – historically this is impossible. The world will see a change in the mentality of governance on this continent in around one to two hundred years. Wish we could be around to see it.

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    Once again it is Eddie Cross who points the finger at the pigs that blight this wonderful country. When are Zimbabweans black and white going to rise up and sweep this stench into the Makuvusi? How long must you wait while they pillage your land , how long will you wait while your children die in the streets. Now is the time to say no, enough, you have stolen our birthright, abused us, and reduced us to beggars, we have had enough. Now you must pay for the evil that you have forced on us. Hang them high, as an example to others that the abuse of Zimbabwe cannot continue anymore and that the people have finally spoken.

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    Mukaronda 4 years

    Thanks Eddie for a wonderful synopsis of this cancerous trait in our leadership and society. I was extremely surprised when George Ciharamba pleaded ignorant that the CEO of ZBC was being paid 40k a month. That was a cheap lie. Now we see a worse off case at PMSA. I can only say Eddie these are signs of the end, the same thing happened in the last days of Mobutu. Nobody cares now and worse still with the touch and go health of Mugabe, everybody is out to loot. Don’t expect breakfast when the titanic is sinking. Its a very sad development for the nation and the ordinary folk who have no other means to live. I think the most painful part is the collapse of the essential services, such as health delivery, water and sanitation, and rampant corruption all pawned on the poor citizenry. The syphoning of diamond wealth by Mugabe and his cronies just reminds me of “Alibaba and the 40 Thieves”. My worry is the future rather the present, as it is what it is, but its the effort to recreate a society that is honest, trust worth, that values a days hard work as a foundation for success and prosperity. What do we teach our grand kids, what legacy do we leave behind. Just being called Revolutionaries alone, with no positive in prints on those we saved but failed to serve, is like a tattoo of shame. Cry beloved Zimbabwe.

    • comment-avatar
      Mark Talbot 4 years

      I mostly agree with you except George Ciharamba is not a cheap liar. He is an expensive liar.

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    Senzachena 4 years

    Well said Miles, regretably I dont think that there is enough leadership or bravery on the ground for the people to rise. It is certainly long overdue.

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    Daniel 4 years

    Eddie am I wrong in saying the MDC(Morgan)said he could trust and work with Mugabe???Why are you now complaing and being so clever?Hindsight??

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    Phys 4 years

    Well written article Mr Eddie Cross. The facts that are laid bare here are shocking to say the least. The CEO of the Medical Aid Society is earning more than the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. The mind boggles at the scale of corruption. How much longer can we endure this theft, corruption, greed, inefficiency and dishonesty??

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    Ephrain Gumbo 4 years

    I agree with everything John Thomas says. Eddie Cross isn’t preaching anything new. All what he says has been going on right from the very beginning and not just in Zimbabwe either. Look at what our neighbour, Zuma, is doing. All part of the African culture, these fat cats just cannot resist it. Preach and say nice things to the public in order to get the vote and into high office but once there they always always do the exact opposite concentrating solely on their own pockets even with millions suffering. As for the MDC, they are useless and also prone to corruption – they are no different, believe me. We need to clean up our own party, purge the ranks of the grossly inefficient and corrupt and try and regain some respect and engage in proper governance.

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    Sadly a lot ofblood will flow soon and everyone will reveal an encyclopedia of corruption theft treson economic sabotage looting cronyism criminality plundering nepotism incompetence inept mismanagement unaccountabllity terrorism child rape perjury maljustice malfeasance smash and grabbing arrogance boastful pomposity immorality impunity immunity by these zanupf enemies of the state. It’s unbelievable the zanoids claim nothing will happen to them. But fear is instilled in their evil hearts. He who lives by the mafia sword will be likewise punished. Gaddafi hussein stalin maozedung nguema dose Santos mugarbage bokassa nubarak Castro Chavez etccccccc…….

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    Biti makoni cross may have the guts. Not the current mdc shambolic shower of manure

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    Ephrain Gumbo 4 years

    Biti, Makoni and Cross are all full of nice sounding words but that is about where it ends. Not one of them possess what it takes to effect the change that is so desperately needed in this beleaguered nation of ours. MDC is nothing but a front for Western imperialists. Admittedly our party ZANU F desperately needs a good shake up and purged of all those very decadent, greedy and corrupt individuals and replaced with bright, honest and hardworking individuals who will serve this nation and its people properly with committment and dedication.

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    SA 4 years

    I think that to surround your house with a mote would be an exercise in futility

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    Rich 4 years

    Not Black and White. Shona are decadent tribalists. Ian Khama is stand alone, for truth from God.

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    RR 4 years

    Eddie, a good analysis, but why the hell did you guys in the MDC not do something about this when you had the chance. It is no good crying about rigged elections and the like. The MDC were willing participants in that charade knowing full well that ZPF were up to no good. Personally I have no respect left for the MDC and it leadership after the way they performed during the GNU period and the run up the 2013 elections.

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      Mark Talbot 4 years

      Agreed. It was over as soon as the MDC entered into the GNU. Zanu-PF ignored it from day one and the MDC was impotent to stop them. The first day they allowed Mugabe to swear more people than allowed as long as they could too. Both seem to be corrupt. As both SADC and the AU want to keep Mugabe in power, it is up to the UN and good luck getting a consensus from them. This only leaves the people of Zimbabwe.