Transparency, accountability must be given more meaning

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IN his biography The Rebel Tycoon on the late British magnate Roland Furhop, later known as Roland Rowland, but best known as Tiny Rowland, author Tom Bower cites how the tycoon could make some very callous statements.

Report by Itai Masuku

For one who headed one of the major multinational corporations on the London Stock Exchange, Lonrho (London Rhodesia) Corporation, Rowland  seemed to have an incongruous disdain for the accounting profession, describing it as irrelevant.

 
“Madam, your husband globetrots around the world carrying out one of the most irrelevant of exercises,” the maverick tycoon is said to have told Mrs Butcher, wife of his accountant, straight to her face.

 

 

To take a leaf from the book, one is also tempted to say that Zimbabwe may have been spending money on one of the most irrelevant exercises, the constitution-making process, ie if key issues are not addressed.

 

 

It doesn’t matter whether we have the Lancaster House Constitution, the rejected 2000 Constitutional Commission draft, the National Constitutional Assembly draft, the Kariba draft, the current Copac draft, or what we hear might be a Zanu PF draft, a key provision seems to have been forgotten, or deliberately left out by the drafters: ie a clause that states that all incoming parliamentary, ministerial and presidential candidates must declare their assets before getting into office and should these be found to have irregularly increased during tenure of office, they must be made to account, with provision for restoration.

 

 

Why is this necessary? Because very few of those seeking office are philanthropists; they are in there to make money.

 

 
One of the most iconic cartoons produced by this newspaper was titled The Gravy Plane, which mimicked a poster for a movie. Its jocular trailer was “Coming soon to an airport near you” and the cartoon depicts a presidential entourage on Air Zimbabwe where all and sundry were having a swinging time.

 

 
The film’s story was supposedly by Greed and the screenplay written by Corruption. Those of us who grew up in the early days of modern rap music will know the famous line by Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five: “Coz it’s all about money, aint the damn thing funny?” That’s what it’s all about. The ideal situation is where one who has already made money gets into office with a vision to make a positive change to his/her country: People who want to be remembered for having made positive impact on their country’s economy or its other aspects, and not for having looted the most. Of course, this has its challenges in terms of curtailing real democracy.

 
However, for as long as the incentive to get rich quick through political office remains, even the well-meaning clauses on good governance in the draft constitution may be of no force or effect. The draft’s reference to transparency and accountability must be given more meaning by requiring aspiring office bearers to account for their wealth before and after political office. Without that, the opportunity for self-aggrandisement will ever remain the blood that draws the sharks and political violence towards elections will be difficult to eradicate coz there’s too much at stake.

 

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