Corruption is politicians’ bedrock

Faith Zaba

ZANU PF youth leaders, Lewis Matutu and Godfrey Tsenengamu, this week hogged the headlines after accusing prominent businessmen Kudakwashe Tagwirei, Billy Rautenbach and Tafadzwa Musarara of allegedly engaging in corrupt dealings and creating cartels.

The ruling party’s politburo removed Matutu and Tsenengamu from their positions as deputy youth secretary and youth commissar for a year, while youth league boss Pupurai Togarepi was booted out of the politburo for gross indiscipline.

Their line of defence was that they were assisting President Emmerson Mnangagwa in his anti-corruption crusade. Mnangagwa has been consistent in his message against corruption since he assumed power in November 2017.

The President, in his inauguration address in 2017, said: “Acts of corruption must stop forthwith.”However, the theory set out in the book Politics and Markets by Charles Lindblom, a celebrated and highly acclaimed political economy scholar, is at play in the corruption saga and the consequent ructions within the ruling party.

According to Lindblom, political leaders at any level must acquire resources in order to exercise and sustain their authority. In a country like Zimbabwe, most politicians lack business and entrepreneurial acumen. They are forced to leverage on their election and appointments to gather resources.

That is how businesspeople end up controlling politicians. In Zimbabwe, corruption becomes the politician’s bedrock.The second theory linking corruption and economic development is the one postulated in the book Prosperity Paradox: How Innovation Can Lift Nations Out of Poverty by Clayton Christensen, a top management philosopher and his fellow co-authors, based on field research. The three authors show that national prosperity is related to low levels of corruption.

They argue that prosperous nations such as the United States once experienced serious levels of corruption akin to those registered in nations ranking lowly in the Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index. They argue that rising prosperity shared widely as a result of successive innovations that enable the majority to access affordable goods and services, engineered sustained economic growth that led to a concomitant fall in corruption levels.

Based on these theories, it is vital for Zimbabwe, to implement political and economic reforms in order to deal with corruption and cartelisation of the economy.

The reforms must provide provision in the constitution that allow for an open market economy, include anti-competition legislation and independent competition regulatory bodies.

The central bank, the judiciary and sector-specific regulatory bodies must be allowed to operate independently and constitutionalism must be entrenched through an independent judiciary.

The country needs to produce both new and improved goods and services, spurring sustained economic growth. This will greatly bolster opportunities for economic prosperity for the majority, thereby minimising the attractiveness of corruption.

To deal with corruption, it is also critical to improve the Ease of Doing Business. It is a scientific fact that the higher the Ease of Doing Business, the lower the national corruption levels (as measured by the Corruption Perception Index).

As we all know, politicians need resources to exercise their influence. The selection criteria of those who hold political positions should then include a track record of financial independence or self-reliance. Meritocracy must be embraced as a Zimbabwean culture.

Cartels are the source of income for politicians needed for them to exercise political power. There is a school of thought that the call by other politicians to dismantle cartels is a convenient opportunity to leverage on a legitimate issue.

It goes further to say that the true motive for the call to dismantle cartels is the fear that the massive financial power derived from the cartels is in the hands of their rivals. They may as well want to dislodge and replace those rivals controlling cartels — hence the solution to cartels is both political and economic reforms— not arrests.

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