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Donations reflect state’s inadequacy



I WISH to register my deep concern at a phenomenon that is currently gripping Zimbabwe.


As we edge closer to the genera

l election, and as at any other election time before, the media is awash with reports of what it calls donations, mainly by government officials — the president included.


We recently heard and continue to hear about the president, ministers and some MPs donating various items such as computers, study materials, farming implements, food, bicycles etc to schools and various communities in the country.


Whilst Zimbabweans are generally a generous lot, I am seriously concerned that what we are witnessing could be high-level corruption being euphemistically called donations.


I might be missing a point, but what is the role of government officials if it is not to ensure that these resources are available to the public?


I must confess I am not a political science or public administration fundi but is it not the general purpose of government to ensure that schools, colleges, councils, hospitals and communities have adequate facilities, resources and infrastructure?


If this is what the president, ministers and the MPs are paid for, how then does the discharge of such duty become donations?


If, as one Sorobhi Chimusoro (writing in the Standard November 28) put it, a father donates school uniforms to his own son, whose job is it in the first place to provide them? Surely, a donation is an act of benevolence.


In this scenario, somebody must be neglecting their duty to the point where these benevolent gentlemen have to dig deep into their coffers to assist deprived citizens.


If the government has to “donate” amenities and resources to (its) citizens then the person or group of persons that is responsible for the provision of these is sleeping on duty.


Even the academic argument that there is a distinction between the president or minister as a private individual and the president or minister as a public official is not convincing.


First, we have been told by the media that these “donations” are being made by these gentlemen in their official capacities (eg “President donates computers”), in which case one would suppose it is part of their official duties.


Second, if the minister has donated from his personal savings, out of his own altruism, whose job was it in the first place? The minister’s? So how does it work?


The minister, in his official capacity, fails to ensure schools have books and then, in his personal capacity, sources and donates the books. But then the minister who failed to perform his job takes personal credit for “donating” that which he officially failed to deliver. This could be funny were it not tragic. Can’t people just do the job they are paid to do?


To me this is corruption at the highest level. Where is the difference when compared with the case in which a policeman demands a cash reward from a robbery victim for having apprehended the robber? Whose job was it?


The real tragedy in the whole farce is that the president is involved. Or is it the media that is wrongly labelling the president’s and ministers’ official duties “donations?”


If the president’s declaration of war on corruption is not sanctimonious hyperbole, can he put an end to this fraud?


J Masuku,

Harare.

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