ZIMBABWEANS believe President Robert Mugabe’s government has no genuine interest in tackling corruption, but uses public platforms such as the party’s congress held in December to denounce graft for political expediency, research by local independent think-tank EconometerCapital Global (Econometer) suggests.
Although Mugabe has often publicly attacked top government and party officials for abusing their offices to enrich themselves so far no action has been taken against them, casting doubt on his commitment to end corruption.
This is despite corruption dominating media coverage last year.
Econometer found only 22% of the sampled population believed Mugabe’s newly reconstituted government, following the party’s congress last December, would tackle corruption head-on.
The report indicated 35% deemed corruption to have a more debilitating effect on the economy than targeted economic sanctions, while 65% believe sanctions have been more damaging.
So rife is corruption in Zimbabwe that 13% of respondents to the Econometer research were unwilling to pay taxes because they believe the taxes are misappropriated.
“About 83% felt their businesses are struggling (so much) that they can’t afford paying taxes while 13% believe their tax contributions will end up in the wrong hands through corrupt tendencies by bureaucrats,” reads the report.
A December 2014 Transparency International report ranked Zimbabwe 156 out of 175 highly corrupt countries in the 2014 Global Corruption Perception Index.
In Southern Africa, Zimbabwe was ranked the second most corrupt country in the region after Angola, which ranked 161 out of 175 countries.
Transparency International said poor scores were, among other factors, likely a sign of widespread bribery and lack of punishment for corruption.
In 2013 Mugabe sensationally accused former Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation chairman Godwills Masimirembwa of taking a US$6 million bribe from a Ghanaian businessman before making a humiliating U-turn in February 2014 saying he had been misled.
Econometer’s report also said 80% of Zimbabweans are of the belief that the economy can only worsen in 2015.
Succession remains a major concern in Zimbabwean politics despite Mugabe having fired Joice Mujuru as vice-president on allegations of corruption and seeking to oust him.
Only 2,4% of Zimbabweans that took the Econometer poll believe Mugabe will step down before his term ends in 2018.