Candid Comment: Mugabe has left corruption to thrive

PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe turned 86 last Sunday and as per the norm over the years, he granted an interview to the sole national television broadcaster, ZTV, where he pontificated on several issues, among them the state of the inclusive government, Western sanctions, the controversy over the Chiadzwa diamonds and his favourite subject for the past decade — land reform.

Mugabe made several interesting disclosures that exposed his inability over the past 30 years to deal decisively with corruption among the rank and file in his government and Zanu PF. His inability to stop the rot has been the major undoing of his leadership.

During the interview, Mugabe said he was aware that some bigwigs in his government and Zanu PF have defied a party resolution by leasing land allocated to them under the 2000 chaotic land reform to former white commercial farmers for a fee. He said the heavyweights were charging between 10% and 15% commission of the total value of yield.

Mugabe said he would soon crack the whip on the offenders. I found the threat from Mugabe laughable if one traces his leadership since 1980.

The threat to take disciplinary measures against corrupt bigwigs has become a broken record, conveniently played to hoodwink Zimbabweans into believing that the octogenarian leader was doing something to rein in vice among his cronies.

Since Independence, Mugabe has failed to act decisively against corrupt leaders in his government and party.

The failure has resulted in grand-scale looting and cannibalisation of state resources by an elite few at the expense of the majority.

Looting and asset stripping by bigwigs has become a way of life in the country and there is no indication from the powers that be that the rot will be nipped in the bud any time soon.

Corruption in government has spread on a large scale into the private and even the informal sectors. The country has been reduced to a nation of dealers out to make a quick buck from the corridors of power, street alleys to flea markets.

Even where Mugabe has attempted to deal with the corruption scourge, he has pardoned the perpetrators. The Willowgate motor scandal is a classic example.

Despite compelling evidence unearthed by Justice Wilson Sandura’s Commission into the vehicle scandal, the corrupt chefs were let off the hook.

Several audits into the land reform exercise have revealed that some cabinet ministers and senior government officials and party heavyweights have multiple farms in utter disregard of the one-man-one-farm policy.

Mugabe has received and not acted on the Flora Buka and the Charles Utete commissions land audit reports which made recommendations on how to deal with multiple farm ownerships, maximum farm sizes and tenure systems. The reports’ findings were not made public and are gathering dust in the president’s office.

In August 2008 Mugabe made a startling revelation when he railed against his ministers, attacking them for their penchant for self-enrichment at the expense of the nation.

“The cabinet that I had was the worst in history. They look at themselves. They are unreliable,” Mugabe said at a luncheon to mark the opening of parliament.

The public criticism was welcomed by many and hopes were high that many of the ministers would be dropped from his cabinet, but alas a few days later Mugabe retained the same cabinet.

It was refreshing to hear Mugabe saying that the inclusive government was expected to perform better this year.

“We are bound to add on to what we did last year and there won’t be any need for us to find each other, discover each other, any more,” he said. “We have done so and know what we are capable of. We also know the areas where it is necessary for us to improve — to improve politically; to improve in respect of getting our unity much more intact and to improve in terms of competence. But when all is said and done, there is need to ensure that there are adequate resources to back the programmes of government that we have put in place, and this is the area where I think there has been a great shortcoming.”

Mugabe spoke like a statesman on that point, but for him to claim that the only outstanding issue of the GPA is sanctions was a dissembling act of the highest order.

The ageing leader and Zanu PF should stop their intransigence and insincerity and fully implement the provisions of the GPA if Mugabe’s dream for more gains this year is to be achieved.

The decision by the European Union to extend sanctions sends a message to Mugabe that the international community is yet to be convinced that real reforms to broaden democracy in the country have been undertaken. It is the international community which should assist the country financially and morally to extricate itself from the current economic vegetative state.

If we cannot implement our own pact to the full, who can trust us Gushungo?

 

Constantine Chimakure

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