Looting spree: Little hope for action

via Looting spree: Little hope for action – The Zimbabwe Independent January 31, 2014 Editor’s Memo with Stewart Chabwinja

SINCE news of extravagant executive salaries at insolvent state broadcaster Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC) broke, reports of scandalous salaries and systematic looting at other state entities have been coming thick and fast, especially over the past week or so.

The shocking levels of sleaze wrought by unbridled greed and a sense of entitlement have consistently made headlines, while the stratospheric salaries of as much as US$230 000 per month have staggered struggling Zimbabweans who mostly subsist on less than US$2 per day.

As our sister paper NewsDay aptly put it, with his monthly salary of US$230 000 Premier Service Medical Aid Society (Psmas) CEO Cuthbert Dube could afford to pay 500 teachers every month (at US$500 each); purchase 57 Toyota Vitz/Honda Fits every month (US$4 000 from Japan); pay for 75 000 soccer fans at the National Sports Stadium at US$3 each and buy 10 houses in Harare’s high-density suburbs at US$23 000 each.

The furore over salaries has been of such magnitude as to rouse government — ever long on talk, but woefully short on action — out of its deep slumber vis-à-vis endemic corruption. Without a hint of irony, government is now issuing threats that those found guilty of abusing ZBC funds or assets over the past four years will face the full wrath of the law.

Elsewhere, Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa told parliamentarians the Office of the President and Cabinet would investigate remunerations of parastatal bosses so as “to formulate what to do with those who have been paying themselves above reasonable levels of remuneration”.

Drawing on past experience, only the most gullible of Zimbabweans, and there can’t be many of those left, expect government to institute a full probe and take stern action against all culprits, for that would entail catching the politically-connected big fish long perceived as untouchable.

In any case, since President Robert Mugabe railed against corruption at the official opening of parliament last September, going to the extent of implicating Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation chief Godwills Masimirembwa by name, the long wait for action continues amid suspicion his arrest could open a can of worms that would expose political bigwigs.

In any case, allegations of shocking executive salaries and perks were raised during the days of the unity government when former state enterprises minister Gorden Moyo tried futilely to stop the looting and bleeding of the parastatals, as was the chorus of pleas for government to bring accountability to diamond mining operations and revenues.

Besides, the parastatal sleaze can be viewed as microcosmic of the wider national patronage system that the ruling Zanu PF thrives on to keep the loyalty of key members despite a calamitous economic record.

Until such a time government acts without fear or favour, Zimbabweans will remain convinced it is up to its smoke and mirrors trick yet again. This is discernable in its feeble attempts to distance itself from the parastatal executives’ perks and corruption scandal.

As civil society organisations have rightly argued, it is practically impossible for government to be oblivious of the goings-on at state enterprises since permanent secretaries sit on the boards of these institutions, and report to the minister.

Thus, merely closing the stable door after the horse has bolted, something government is wont to do, will not suffice. This rot clearly calls for a paradigm shift from the laissez faire attitude at parastatals to that underpinned by performance appraisal, accountability and supervision. The sort being advocated by Local Government minister Ignatius Chombo, who is set to start issuing year-long performance-based contracts for town clerks warning those who fail to perform would not have their contracts renewed.



  • comment-avatar

    Stewart Chabwinja good article. If anybody reads this and listens to what you say we have hope yet. We are watching these people. We are right in there. It sounds like I am funny? But ask yourself has not this week not been enlightening? We are right in there…watch this space….

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    Fallenz 7 years ago

    Well, there’s “gold fever”, and then there’s “loot fever”. Drives a person mad, it does. A little is never enough… if you’re a thief at heart. Get away with stealing a little, and they’ll go back for more… then more… and more. Finally, you’re pulling in US$50,000 a month… and you become the same as the person you hated for their wealth. Only difference is, that person you hated may have been well qualified, and invested and worked hard for what they earned… but the one’s with “loot fever” never worked at all… they just steal and steal and steal.

    Can you imagine the enormous uproar from the Limpopo to the Zambezi if one of those who gave themself such a salary and bonuses and perks with so few qualifications were white… he’d be hanging from a pole by now.

    “Loot fever” has driven ZANUPF to be so totally out of touch with reality, they think the current circumstances are quite normal, and equal to the standards in other nations. But then, insane folks don’t realize they are.

    So, the insane feeding frenzy continues, because they will not be brought to book… for who had the power to do so except others who a too busy raking in their own stolen loot.

    It was never about independence………………..

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    Tafadzwa 7 years ago

    The call upon government to take action will likely fall on deaf ears for the simple reason that the chief looter is untouchable. Mugabe is leading by name, as such other tan shuffling the culprits no action will be taken against the likes of Cuthbert Dube. If Mugabe can take $500000 cash for a single overseas trip, why should this not be called looting ? Why does Mugabe almost always have the largest entourage each time he flies out of Zimbabwe ? We have become so accustomed to Mugabe’s largesse, that we have stopped questioning it. No wonder there is no outcry about Mugabe’s foreign trip expenditures. The recently announced budget set aside more funds for Mugabe than the education ministries ?

    Notice that it is only one or two ministers who are actively trying to fight this scourge of excessive parastalas salaries. Do we expect Chombo to do the same ? The rest of the ministers are will not participate in this fights because they already know Mugabe will not take the lead.

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      Ruramai 7 years ago

      Tafadzwa,Mugabe’s trips to Malaysia cost a minimum of $3 million every single time.

      Now the truth about the multi millions Hong Kong house has come out.

      Mugabe is the chief looter. There’s just no way he can stop the rot coz that’s how he survives.

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    John Thomas 7 years ago

    This why they “liberated” the country. This behavior will not stop any time soon

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    Rukweza 7 years ago

    Zimbabwe is the most independent country is africa thats why we give our chefs high salaries

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    Chatunga 7 years ago

    Fish starts rotting from the, Mugarbage leading the pack giving himself a hooping 500 000 dollars everytime he goes out, no wonder why he is a good globe trotter.

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    tafadzwa maguta 7 years ago

    history had taught us that zanupf and president mugabe wont act on these culprits,for interest sake,what happened to,chikore,kangai,made,and other ministers who had openly abused their positions or openly looted the state in the name of history.do you think these guys will be punished to save the party”s face?.the truth is they will be assigned to other ministries to spread their dirty acts.in a democratic nation,the debate wont be on whether they should be arrested or not,but on the extend of their sentence and further probe,but is that the case with our dear zim?.the president at one point tell the nation that people are clever,they tell you they had borrowed from this and that,but to day,the evidence that need no probing is there,lets watch and see who would ever set his foot anywhere near a police station,let alone a prison.who would save us and when?

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    Tjingababili 7 years ago


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    Only Fools 7 years ago

    Well written Stewart. This theft is not new and has been going on since 1980. People are only shocked now because the corruption is so open. We all know nothing will happen because Mugarbage gives a finger to anyone to prove he’s the boss.

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    jobolinko 7 years ago

    Nothing will change under zanu rule forget it