APART from the entrenched venality and ravages of President Robert Mugabe’s corrupt and incompetent regime, Zimbabwe’s rampaging parasitic patronage networks are also looting and destroying the country in untold ways.
Editor’s Memo,Dumisani Muleya
It is now very difficult in Mugabe’s government to find an official who is not corruptible. Some of them just go to work to solicit for bribes, extort money and engage in corrupt activities. They have no sense of shame and proportion in their systematic and grand theft. The evidence is there in abundance, but nothing is being done to arrest them and hold them to account. All we hear is idle rhetoric about corruption and use of police to fight discontent citizens and not criminals. Police are also used in needless roadblocks where they collect bribes with ruthless efficiency and frenzied agitation like they are going out of fashion.
All the while, government is very much aware of corrupt activities within the corridors of power and in the streets in relation to police depredations. It’s almost like corruption is now official government policy.
Auditor-General Mildred Chiri’s latest reports which unearthed industrial-scale looting by officials in Mugabe’s government is just but one piece of evidence in a mountain of such documents. There is even proof, which is different from evidence, of such plunder. Yet nothing is done to ensure prosecution and accountability.
Imagine a country where Treasury cannot account for US$570 million disbursed to faceless officials and their cronies in the form of loans. The total sum looted is close to US$1 billion. When you consider that Zimbabwe’s entire national budget is US$4 billion, it becomes clear that the proportion of plunder is massive and damaging to the country and people’s lives. The devastation and ramification of corruption on the economy and people’s lives is will well-know. Studies have shown corruption is a form of punitive tax of an economy and a people.
There can be no greater sabotage of the economy and the public interest than this. It just goes to further show Mugabe and his officials’ claims of being patriotic and deeply concerned about Zimbabwe’s future are fake. This is vacuous rhetoric calculated to mask looting and self-aggrandisement.
What is currently happening in South Africa illustrates the point even better. The recent leaking of a cache of revealing Gupta family emails showed beyond reasonable doubt that President Jacob Zuma and his predatory cronies are pillaging state enterprises.
South African Communist Party’s (SACP) secretary-general Blade Nzimande this week decried a shadow “parallel state” which has emerged in South Africa and “parasitic patronage network” on the rampage, looting state enterprises and pushing a preferred ruling ANC faction to keep power within Zuma’s axis.
He said state capture had extensively damaged the nation. South African deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa — battling with Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma to be the next ANC and South African president — also called the Guptas and their collaborators out in a fiery delivery at the SACP congress.
Nzimande said the ANC is buffeted by “factionalism, moneyed patronage networks, and corporate capture” linked to the “notorious” Gupta empire, including the president’s own family.
He complained of “a web of parasitic capitalists which has created a parallel, shadow state”.
Although this is part of the Zuma succession battle, corruption in the South African government is now rampant. The prevailing economic crisis sweeping through the country is partly a result of economic mismanagement and looting of state-owned enterprises by corrupt officials, including the Guptas’ patronage networks.
Patronage networks are not a new phenomenon. They are rooted in crony capitalism. They are also parasitic and sustain themselves through webs of networks within the state and business.
In Zimbabwe, the state has also been captured by corrupt networks which are fighting for political power amid an intensifying succession battle similar to that of South Africa. The bottom line though is that these networks are destroying the nation.