via We need a nation of whistle-blowers by Garikai Mazara for Sunday Mail Sunday, 22 September 2013
President Mugabe, addressing the media at State House on September 11, 2013, after the swearing-in ceremony of Cabinet ministers and their deputies, said:
“I am glad we have a team, we have a team, a team that has lots of youngsters, young people, young blood, and we are looking forward, of course, to the young blood tomorrow taking over from us and as long as they are along our lines of progress, being people-oriented, thinking more of the people than of themselves, then the direction that it will be.
“You now, looking at developments properly, the perspective must be correct, the perspective in terms of the trajectory. Veku army, vepfuti, vane trajectory yebara, nzira inotorwa nebara. They must be correct kuti usvike patarget yacho. Zvino isu also, ideological trajectory must always be people-oriented. The targets we have must be targets that answer the issue at the end of the day when you have accomplished your programme.
“Who are the beneficiaries? The people or yourself? Corruption, kazhinji tinotaura nenyaya ye corruption. Ava vakuru muri kuregerera corruption, but corruption-ka, it’s not that easy to detect.
Painoitwa pachivande-vande. The fact that one has emerged rich may be proof, proof of corruption, but it’s hidden proof. Haungoti nokuti uyu akavaka imba, aah akaba mari. Ko kana akakwereta and vanhu vakachenjeraka mazuva ano. Ndakatora chikwereti; ndakazoita zvakati.
“Hamungangorambe muchiti ngativhenekei, ngatiitei zvakati. But those who know that there have been payments made should say so. Vanopihwa macommissions vachiona kuti macommissions ari kuitwa pass, must be able to come out and tell us that, indeed, ehe pakati pane zvakati zvakaitwa, zvakati zvakati. We would be very grateful. But we can’t victimise people merely because there is an appearance of a person prospering when circumstances for his prospering are not that visible. We will want proof, proof, proof, proof.
“We have that Government. You will be seeing what we will try to do. Criticise objectively. Learn to be objective. Kwete to start by having a subjective state of mind. ‘I will never write anything god about this person’. Aah, I say to a person like that kuti, aah, you are demented. To have that kind of mind is dangerous to yourself. You don’t think right. You will always get proof of a person doing wrong things, no, he may not reveal it, but certainly along the way if he is given to doing wrong you will see it.”
Though this was one the many issues that the President dwelt on, on the day, along with matters regarding revitalising the economy, getting agriculture going, etc, fighting corruption has been high on the agenda of Zanu-PF going into the July 31 harmonised elections.
And to cement his convictions on fighting the scourge, the President went a gear up on Tuesday while addressing a luncheon to mark the official opening of Parliament.
There was a feeling around town that the President was walking the talk, and if indeed we are going to get the country up and running, especially after losing a decade from 2000, mostly as a result of the Western-induced sanctions, and then another five years through the inclusive Government, corruption is one of the biggest scourges that we have to fight as a country, as an economy that needs to get off the blocks.
Then again, the President was forthright, that we do not go by hearsay alone, we need proof. But it takes two to make a corrupt deal, so instead of waiting to provide evidence, which might be difficult to come by, it is prudent to blow the whistle from the onset, that a corrupt deal is about to be hatched. The law enforcement agents will take over.
Whilst the naming-and-shaming of corrupt elements might be seen as the first step towards fighting and eradicating corruption, there is also a general feeling that only the sacrificial lambs have been targeted, leaving the bigger and fatter fish that have been left to swim in the sea of corruption.
Corruption has become so ingrained in our social DNA that it is almost impossible to do a simple everyday transaction without paying someone.
That is how deep-seated corruption is, that to drive from Harare to Gweru you need an extra allowance for the police, to get a birth certificate you need to “cut” the registry official.
The usual pattern is: the higher the office or the service being sought, the bigger the compensation.
It is really a scourge, which the President, and the country, must move to tackle, so that the intentions of the new Government are clear, that we are an economy thirsty for recovery, recovery not hindered by corruption.
Many a time the President’s name, and at times the party’s name, has been used to line individual pockets. “This is meant for the President or the party,” or “the President said.”
These are issues that, besides the decade-long sanctions, have negatively impacted on our growth as a nation. The question is: how many got away with dollars in their pockets, without getting the attention of the President?
There are civil servants in the small offices, councillors, police officers, customs officials, etc.
Though it is a culture that might take time to correct, one of the ways to remedy the social ill, as the President has highlighted at many forums, is to raise wages and salaries. People tend to be corrupt because there is a need, and once a living wage is put in place, this would assist in fighting the scourge.
Besides increasing working wages, one of the other ways of eradicating corruption would be for Government services to be easily accessible.
People are prone to pay to beat the system, or such a system is created such that people end up paying. With the advances being made in information communication technology, there is no excuse for the failure by Government departments to be online, so that people do not queue for the services they require. Most Government forms should, by now, be accessible on the Internet such that bottlenecks are eliminated.
There have been other arguments, that picking on an individual might be wrong, and that given the enthusiasm that this Government has exhibited, it might be prudent to start on a clean slate, and let bygones be bygones. The reasoning being that the individual named might not want to sink alone, and might sing in court, or in public, which might not augur well for an economy that is yearning for recovery.
That is arguable, but what is not arguable is that corruption needs to be tackled head-on, and the more there is intent of purpose, the better it will be on our path to recovery.
If Zanu-PF were to actively act on all the promises it made during the campaign period, as espoused in the party’s manifesto, then the road to recovery is clear, that is if such hindrances as corruption are dealt with and eradicated.