Time to strengthen public accountability | The Herald

via Editorial Comment: Time to strengthen public accountability | The Herald January 29, 2014

It is heartening to hear legislators talking about the need to prosecute public officials who abuse their offices so that they pay themselves hefty sums of money.
For far too long, people have been able to get their hands on public resources without having to face any real form of accountability.
This created the culture of simply looting, getting fired, waiting to get another public appointment while getting fat off ill-gotten gains, and then looting again.

It is a rotten cycle, and one which has worked against genuine efforts to fight economic sanctions that on their own are bad enough. As we have pointed out here before, any action that works against the national interest is treated as treason in countries such as China, countries that we would do well to emulate on several fronts.

The call for prosecutions by legislators raises several issues that the country would do well to quickly ponder over and perhaps act on.
The first is that Chapter 9 of the Constitution should urgently be enforced through the institution of relevant legislation pertaining to the Public Finance Management Act.

That chapter of the Constitution provides a broad outline on basic standards expected of public officials, which include focus on service delivery, accountability and transparency, and periodic declaration of personal assets.

This is something for both the executive and legislators to act on. Both ministers and legislators, the latter through a private member’s action, can bring the appropriate legislation before Parliament.

And this is something that must be done both quickly and in technically/legally sound language.
Secondly, Government should seriously consider establishing a commission, such as we saw with the Willowgate Scandal of the 1980s, to look into the operations of State-linked enterprises.

The Office of the President and Cabinet has taken the right route in requesting full disclosure of the packages being paid at these enterprises.

What could be needed though is a more comprehensive inspection of operations at parastatals and State-linked firms, which should be followed by necessary remedial prosecutorial, and more importantly, structural action.

This will ensure proper structures are put in place so that the culture of looting with impunity ends.
Thirdly, it means Government on the whole has to become more responsive to what is happening on the ground.

Looting of public resources did not start yesterday. It has been going on for years right under the watch — and in some cases with the collusion and even the instigation — of ministers and other senior State officials.

How has Government allowed this to happen? How did it happen? What can be done to ensure it does not happen again, and if it does happen, what action is taken against perpetrators?

There appears to be an emerging virulent strain of nepotism and cronyism coming out of what we have uncovered thus far in public institutions.

How such a malady is allowed to grow and become so entrenched in governance surely boggles the mind, and it is something that the authorities must clamp down on as a matter of urgency.

Lastly, we would like to say once more that it is good that parliamentarians see the need to prosecute people who loot public resources.
It is our sincere wish that the chair of the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Health and Child Care, Dr Ruth Labode, also pushes for accountability in relation to the legislators who we were told plundered the Constituency Development Fund in the last Parliament.

Those MPs are still walking around scot-free. Surely what is good for the gander is good for the goose, and we expect to see transparency at Parliament.



  • comment-avatar
    Chiedza 8 years ago

    A case of Damascus at The Herald. If you continue on this path, you will increase your readership & regain the support & respect you lost many years ago when you decided to occupy the space left by the defunct People’s Voice. The good thing is that it is becoming evident that we still have well meaning Zimbabweans somewhere who still wish to see Zimbabwe progress. Let’s stop making unnecessary noice about sanctions when we have sanctioned ourselves through corruption.

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    Nyoni 8 years ago

    The Herald is on the verge of a “renaissance”, we hope.

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    zimbo 8 years ago

    The Herald once blamed the private sector for the wide gap in wages from workers to management – this maybe the case but now we see who really is the enemy of the state.!!

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    masvukupete 8 years ago

    Quote no 1

    “For far too long, people have been able to get their hands on public resources without having to face any real form of accountability.”

    The herald is only waking up to this now. We have raised such issues in the past and have been labeled stoogies of the west. I suppose now the herald has become the mouthpiece of the west. Even the MPs have all turned to be puppets of the west.

    Quote no 2

    “It is a rotten cycle, and one which has worked against genuine efforts to fight economic sanctions that on their own are bad enough.”

    Sanctions had to be thrown in somewhere!

    Quote no 3

    “This is something for both the executive and legislators to act on.”

    What the heck have the executive and legislators been doing all along, I suppose they have been putting all their energies in fighting sanctions (albeit without success).

    Quote no 4

    “Looting of public resources did not start yesterday.”

    Yeah you have got that very right. It started way back in 1980 victims compensation, land reform pounds from the UK etc.

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    So the Herald is either waking up to the reality of corruption, greed, theft, graft, fraud etc in the public/municipal/parastatal administrations or their lords and masters have a ulterior motives which is more likely.

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    Sekuru Mapenga 8 years ago

    What is Jonathan Moyo plotting?

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      As things are not going to plan the ruling party is going to sacrifice some individuals to try and legitimize their existence in Government. What some of these people did not realize is that if you make a deal with the devil he will give you what you want but when it is time to pay back you will pay with all you have including your life. There is nothing changing at the Herald. It is just sacrifice time. The Devil wants his due. The have been told they can write these kind of articals, but do not be fooled the puppeteer still pulls the strings.

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    Mark Talbot 8 years ago

    The Herald talking about public accountability! What a joke!