By Eben Mabunda
THE latest corruption rankings released in Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index 2021 (CPI) report, place Zimbabwe in position 157 out of 180 countries globally. The findings of the report amplify the depth of corruption in Zimbabwe whose economic impact is too expensive to ignore and poignantly signal the dire need to pull out the cancer from the roots.
The CPI scores 180 countries and territories by their perceived levels of public sector corruption, according to experts and business people. The CPI uses a scale from 0 to 100; 100 being very clean and 0 highly corrupt. Zimbabwe had a score of 23 behind Nigeria (a nation in which corruption has been prevalent for decades), Mozambique and Uganda at 24, 26 and 27 respectively.
Illicit Financial Flows (IFF) have cost the country billions of dollars over the years. Transparency International estimates Zimbabwe has lost more than US$100 billion to corruption since 1980. Annual estimates differ from Afrodad’s approximation of US$570 million a year to Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission’s approximation of US$3 billion annually.
The mining sector is the backbone of the country’s economy, accounting for approximately 65% of export earnings. Sadly, the sector has over the years been plagued by IFFs with the country’s Home Affairs ministry estimating US$100 million worth of gold losses every month. Under Robert Mugabe’s administration, diamonds worth US$15 billion were announced by the government as having been looted.
At the epicentre of the crisis are the country’s porous airports, an exit portal for pilfered mineral resources. Remember Henrietta Rushwaya’s RG Mugabe airport arrest.
Recent Investigations by The Standard, Information for Development Trust (IDT) and Zimstar News published last September revealed:
“Private aircraft have been sneaking in and out of the Robert Gabriel Mugabe (RGM) International Airport and other Zimbabwean flight ports without detection due to poor air traffic control.”
Corruption has over the years become deeply entrenched in Zimbabwe with countless reports of bribes demanded by the police, local councils, vehicle inspection officials, tax officials, sales and procurement officers in the private sector, among others.
The ‘Report on Cartel Power Dynamics in Zimbabwe’ published by Maverick Citizen in February 2021 noted the existence of corrupt cartels in Zimbabwe:
“The study finds three types of cartels: the first being collusive relationships between private sector companies; the second being abuse of office by public officeholders for self-enrichment; and the third and main type being collusive relationships between public officials and the private sector… cartels are deeply entrenched in many parts of Zimbabwean life.”
The abuse of basic human rights, infringement of property rights, and the absence of the rule of law have worsened the situation. Law enforcements have been on a “catch-and-release” circus with fingered corrupt officials facing no genuine arrests and imprisonments.
In 2019, former Tourism minister Prisca Mupfumira was fired after she was accused of criminal conduct during her time as Minister of Public Service that resulted in the loss of US$95 million at the National Social Security Authority. Former Health minister, Obadiah Moyo, was discharged in June 2020 after allegations that he illegally granted a US$60 million contract to a sinister firm that sold the government Covid-19 PPE at inflated prices in what is known as the ‘Drax scandal.’
Both former ministers are happily unleashed!
Zimbabwe’s predicament calls for institutional reforms, the establishment of an independent judiciary system, the ending of impunity, the establishment of transparent systems, and a strong political will to eliminate corruption.
According to the Economic Development in Africa Report 2020 by the UN Conference on Trade and Development (Unctad), Africa loses about US$88,6 billion, annually in IFFs. Curbing IFFs, could almost halve the $200 billion annual financing gap Africa faces to achieve the sustainable development goals.
Sanctions must go! I agree, more critical: Corruption must go!
- Mabunda is an analyst and TV anchor at Equity Axis, a leading financial research firm in Zimbabwe. — email@example.com