THE government’s continued failure to walk the talk in fighting corruption poses serious questions on its commitment to curb the cancerous scourge which has become a way of life in Zimbabwe.
Candid Comment,Faith Zaba
Media and audit reports of various government-owned entities, including those by the Auditor-General Mildred Chiri, have exposed massive corruption scandals, which continue unabated in a country where abuse of state resources is now common practice. Corruption scandals at state-owned mobile phone operator NetOne, power utility Zesa, ministries of energy and transport, Zimbabwe National Road Authority, Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe, are just a few examples. No action, however, has been taken to deal with the corrupt individuals fingered in the reports.
President Robert Mugabe has said people should bring the evidence of corruption. But the evidence is as visible as the nose on his face. Right now a forensic audit by PriceWaterhouseCoopers into NetOne released recently has unearthed evidence of mismanagement and corruption in the tender processes and shady payments running into millions of dollars without documentation and contracts.
The energy sector has also been embroiled in massive corruption scandals in the awarding of tenders, which has sucked in Energy minister Samuel Undenge.
The looting spree at the Public Service Medical Aid Society (Psmas) in which ministers and senior government officials were implicated is still fresh in people’s minds.
What kind of a government ignores corruption even in cases where there is clear evidence of the rot?
Mugabe has cultivated a culture of graft among his close political associates by not acting on the rot. The police’s failure to arrest these deviants whose actions have haemorrhaged the economy has fuelled kleptocracy where people can loot and steal with reckless abandon without any consequences to their actions. The problem is exacerbated by the fact that some of the key ministries are headed by people with skeletons in their cupboards, like Home Affairs minister Ignatius Chombo, who has been dogged by scandals as revealed by the shocking list of properties exposed by his ex-wife Marian during their divorce hearing.
Some of the cases are as clear as day, showing that there has been theft through either direct looting, abuse of state resources or open flouting of tender processes.
The Office of the President and Cabinet’s blocking of parliament from investigating Sakunda Holdings and Mugabe’s in-law on the controversial Dema Diesel Power Plant shows that even lawmakers have been rendered toothless bulldogs in the fight against the scourge. The state must instead be using its vast machinery to investigate corruption cases and not blocking them.
The Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission must be well-resourced and work with the police to help curb corruption. Government has an obligation to protect public funds. Zimbabwe cannot have a government that protects corrupt individuals.
The failure to fight corruption is one of the main indicators of Mugabe’s failed rule and will no doubt contribute to his chequered legacy.