STORIES in the media about rampant corruption within state institutions, particularly parastatals or state enterprises, just go to show how deep into the abyss Zimbabwe has now descended under President Robert Mugabe’s disastrous rule.
Editor’s Memo Dumisani Muleya
That Mugabe’s rule has been a disaster is no longer in doubt. Even war veterans and the military — the foot soldiers who have kept him in power, especially since 2000 — have now woken up from their patronage-induced slumber to see the harsh reality.
Indeed, even the most sycophantic or gullible Mugabe advocate can now see that. You only need to listen to disgruntled war veterans these days to understand the depth and intensity of their anger with his rule.
Of course, the situation is exacerbated by the raging Zanu PF succession power struggles which threaten to end Mugabe’s reign in a dramatic and tragic way.
Only yesterday, war veterans, state security service chiefs and security ministers met in Harare to prepare an agenda for a make-or-break meeting with Mugabe after the Easter holidays following weeks of fierce Zanu PF infighting, purges and acrimony.
While the destruction and chaos spawned by Mugabe’s rule is there for all to see, one of the biggest troubles with Zimbabwe though is corruption. This will be one of his worst legacies, among a litany of many other failures.
Well, it must be made clear early that Mugabe’s contributions to Zimbabwe’s liberation struggle, independence and initial social and human development programmes are significant even if they now pale into insignificance in comparison to the damage he has wrought upon the nation.
Mugabe contributed a lot to Zimbabwe. Had he left in 1990 or even 2000, despite early human rights abuses, his legacy would be retrievable somehow. But it’s now too late. It’s irretrievable. He will leave the country in ruins, isolated and without a currency; downing in poverty and corruption.
Corruption, which sabotages the economy and undermines institutions, while having a devastating impact on investment and growth, has become a national cancer.
Current stories of corruption at NetOne, where an internal audit has unearthed a series of dodgy deals by management and their cronies, show how rotten Zimbabwe has become.
But the NetOne corruption saga is just the tip of an iceberg. Virtually all parastatals are like that. They are riddled with corruption in its various manifestations: bribery, embezzlement, fraud, extortion and theft. From petty to grand and systematic corruption, it’s all there within the public sector. And the private sector as well. Even in the media, corruption is now rife.
In fact, it is consuming society and gnawing away at its fabric. It has killed the collective conscience of the nation. Corruption is now the new normal. Honest people are nowadays considered lazy and stupid, but thieves resourceful and streetwise entrepreneurs.
Even corporate awards are now organised in Zimbabwe these days to honour thieves — creatures of an economy in which success in business depends on corrupt relationships with politicians — crony capitalism Gupta-style, that is.
Society, run by a kleptocracy (rule by thieves), now celebrates stealing and our role models have become crooks.
That is why wherever you go for service or help in the public and private sectors, someone needs a bribe. On the roads, police demand bribes like it’s now official policy to do so. Keeping an average Zimbabwean from being corrupt is now as difficult as trying to prevent them from eating sadza.
A country where US$15 billion in diamond revenues is looted without trace and consequences? What sort of society is that?
Comptroller and Auditor-General Mildred Chiri has done a great job to expose systematic corruption in state enterprises, but is let down by leaders who don’t act on such venality, which they are part of.
As Chinua Achebe would say, my frank and honest opinion is that anybody who says that corruption in Zimbabwe has not yet become alarming, is either a fool, a crook or else does not live in this country.