NOTHING aptly fits the mindset of President Robert Mugabe and senior government officials currently individually and collectively watching as the nation is plundered by those within their clique through corruption than British journalist Michela Wrong’s book It’s Our Turn to Eat: The Story of a Kenyan Whistleblower.
Editor’s Memo,Dumisani Muleya
Corruption in Zimbabwe’s public and private sectors is rampant and alarming. Not only has the media, particularly the Zimbabwe Independent, of late been exposing the stinking rot, but also Auditor-General Mildred Chiri has been professionally and systematically doing so for years now.
There is simply no doubt anymore Zimbabwe is being ruled by a kleptocracy. Those who claim to be our leaders and patriots are looting public resources on a large scale and with impunity. They have captured and colonised the state for personal gain and self-aggrandisement.
The scramble for vantage positions on the feeding trough to amass ill-gotten gains and pick up crumbs from under the tables seems to be informed by the fear that since Mugabe is on the sunset on his long career and could go anytime by whatever means, including natural causes, “you will remain with nothing if you don’t get something now”.
In a country where corrupt elements and thieves are bizarrely hailed and admired as role models and heroes, pushing and shoving to get access to public resources is seen as the shrewdest and even intelligent thing to do. Those who resist corruption are dismissed as self-righteous or simply stupid.
The proceeds of corruption, including mansions and top-of-the-range vehicles, let alone overseas holidays, are flaunted with impunity, pride and glee, reducing the country to a haven for brazen thieves in suits who cut savvy and executive looks.
Hence, in many ways education and hard work are no longer valued as much by society as the perverted parasitic and lumpen fringe, which has a nexus with crony capitalism, take over.
All this came to mind this week due to the visit to Harare at AMH’s invitation by John Githongo, a former Kenyan journalist who investigated massive fraud in his home country and later became ex-president Mwai Kibaki’s anti-corruption czar in 2003.
Githongo is the whistleblower in It’s Our Turn to Eat.
After taking a government post as permanent secretary for governance and ethics under Kibaki, following the dramatic end of Kenyan dictator Daniel arap Moi’s 24-year rule, Githongo mysteriously left in 2005, later sensationally accusing top ministers of large-scale fraud. His story is full of drama, including threats to his life and fleeing to exile in Britain.
In 2006, Githongo named former Kenyan vice-president Moody Awori and several ministers as cahoots in a US$600 million scam — known as the Anglo Leasing Scandal.
Githongo claimed Kibaki was complicit in the affair. The scandal centred on the award of a huge contract to a ghost company, Anglo-Leasing. The allegations were of course denied.
Yet Githongo found himself on the run; ending up in exile.
The flawed logic of those in the Kibaki administration was that under Moi and his Kalenjin tribesmen, they did not have an opportunity to “eat”. Now it was their time to eat as their own Kikuyu tribal luminary had taken back power after 24 years in the wilderness — typical African politics.
The first president Jomo Kenyatta, the father of the present leader Uhuru, was also Kikuyu. As a member of the Kikuyu tribe, Githongo was expected to join the fray and eat quietly with his tribesmen, but he loudly resisted and chose to expose corruption much to the chagrin and anger of his clansmen who saw him as a sell-out and a foreign spy as he recorded some of their conversations as they plotted to raid Treasury.
In Zimbabwe, it seems Mugabe and his cronies think it’s their time to eat after the Rhodesians’ colonial plunder.
They are stealing as if it is going out of fashion.