Village Rhapsody: Corruption hinders development and good governance

Corruption has led to the misappropriation of public funds, the weakening of institutions, and the loss of confidence in the government.

The scourge of corruption is one of the greatest impediments to development and good governance in Zimbabwe.

Corruption has led to the misappropriation of public funds, the weakening of institutions, and the loss of confidence in the government.

It has also contributed to a culture of impunity where those in power are not held accountable for their actions.

 As a result, corruption has stifled economic growth, undermined efforts to reduce poverty, and weakened democratic institutions.

Corruption refers to the misuse of power or authority for personal gain, typically involving bribery, embezzlement, nepotism, or other unethical practices.

It is an issue that undermines the principles of fairness, transparency, and accountability within a society or institution.

 In the case of Zimbabwe, corruption has been a significant issue for many years.

Zimbabwe has faced challenges in establishing strong governance mechanisms that promote transparency and accountability.

Weak institutions, lack of checks and balances, and insufficient enforcement of anti-corruption laws have contributed to the problem.

The country has experienced periods of political instability and authoritarian rule, which have created an environment conducive to corruption.

In such situations, those in power often exploit their positions for personal gain, leading to widespread corruption.

Zimbabwe has faced economic difficulties, including hyperinflation and a declining economy.

These challenges have created opportunities for corruption as individuals seek to exploit the system for personal enrichment.

Lack of transparency in public procurement processes and government transactions provides fertile ground for corruption.

Without proper oversight and transparency, public funds can be misused or embezzled without accountability.

The perception that corrupt individuals can act with impunity, without facing legal consequences, further perpetuates corruption.

When corrupt practices go unpunished, it erodes public trust in institutions and hampers efforts to combat corruption effectively.

The consequences of corruption in Zimbabwe have been far-reaching.

It has hindered economic development, diverted resources away from critical sectors such as healthcare and education, and exacerbated poverty and inequality.

Additionally, corruption has eroded public trust in government institutions and contributed to a sense of disillusionment among the population.

Corruption in the country Zimbabwe did not start now; it goes back in the late 2000s.

During the controversial land reform programme in the early 2000s, which aimed to redistribute land from white farmers to black Zimbabweans, there were allegations of corruption and irregularities.

Some reports suggested that well-connected individuals, including government officials, obtained multiple farms or seized land for personal gain rather than for the intended purpose of empowering disadvantaged farmers.

In 2005, the government launched Operation Murambatsvina ("Clean Up"), which aimed to demolish informal settlements and street vending structures.

However, it was widely reported that corrupt officials took advantage of the operation to extort bribes from affected individuals in exchange for sparing their properties.

Furthermore, the diamond mining industry in Zimbabwe has been plagued by allegations of corruption.

In 2008, the military seized control of the Marange diamond fields, and there were reports of human rights abuses and illicit diamond trading.

 The Zimbabwean government was accused of not properly accounting for diamond revenues, leading to suspicions of embezzlement and bribery.

Not only was corruption seen in minerals, also in the agriculture sector, the command agriculture programme, initiated in 2016, was intended to address food shortages by providing subsidised inputs to farmers.

However, there were reports of corruption within the programme, including the misallocation of resources and diversion of inputs for personal gain.

These corrupt practices undermined the program's effectiveness and exacerbated food security challenges.

Another act of corruption was also seen in 2018, it was revealed that NSSA, a government-run pension fund, had been involved in corrupt activities.

It was reported that millions of dollars were misappropriated through illegal loans, insider deals, and irregular investments.

This scandal highlighted the extent of corruption within state institutions.

In curbing corruption, the government of Zimbabwe has introduced orgarnisations that fight against corruption which include Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (ZACC) which has made efforts to terminate these acts.

According to the Zacc 2022 annual report received by the Parliament of Zimbabwe recently, of the 684 reports received by the commission, 332 (48,50%) were about criminal abuse of duty and 247 (36,10%) fraud.

Reports indicate that corrupt gangs within and outside the government are creaming off assets worth billions of dollars annually from the country.

A recent Al Jazeera documentary on money laundering and gold smuggling also claimed that well-connected elites were stealing the country’s minerals.

There have been no arrests following the exposé, with some government officials including President Emmerson Mnangagwa spokesperson George Charamba claiming that the documentary was meant to tarnish the country’s image.

Findings from Al Jazeera investigations highlights that Zimbabwe has been losing over 50kg of gold per week, however, there is a possibility that other minerals are being smuggled the same way.

Resource leakages have a negative impact on the economy because when the government fails to collect enough revenue due to tax evasion, it will result in limited or lack of responsiveness to people’s needs.

In as much as we acknowledge that corruption affects everyone, women and children severely suffer because they rely on the government for basic services such as water and sanitation, healthcare and education.

Unavailability or shortage of essential medicine is common in public health institutions whereas pregnant women face challenges to access quality maternal care, which may result in an increase in maternal mortality rate.

From the Al Jazeera documentary we learnt that criminals have been operating for many years without being caught.

Anti-corruption institutions should be well capacitated and strengthened with latest technology which can enable them to investigate and clampdown on organised crime syndicates.

The government has allowed the gold Mafia club to go scot-free after plundering state resources worth billions of dollars.

Government has also prioritised buying state-of-the-art vehicles for traditional chiefs so that they cow their subjects to vote for the ruling Zanu PF party.

This is coming at a time when people in urban areas are fetching water from unprotected sources for domestic use.

The corruption in the government has gotten worse that even some of the government officials are now seeing it.

Two weeks ago, the Zimbabwe independent paper published a story where the government rejected an invoice for US$15 million submitted by a firm that clinched a deal to construct precast walls at State House, the president’s official residence and offices.

Under the deal, Paulos Construction was given the mandate to carry out works at Number 1 Chancellor Avenue.

The bill is the latest to be rejected by the government, which last year refused to pay what it described as inflated prices by its suppliers.

Sources in the Office of the President and Cabinet (OPC) allege the figures in the invoices, gleaned by the Independent, were much higher than market rates.

Treasury, the OPC sources said, was also questioning an invoice by another local construction company that is billing the government US$2 million a gate at the offices and residential side of the State House.

The Independent was told that Paulos Construction’s case had caused divisions in the Finance ministry, with some officials at the Treasury pushing for payment, saying the government should honour the terms of the winning tender.

The top Finance ministry officials blocking the payment, the sources said, are arguing that the invoice from Paulos Construction was ridiculously high as it could purchase up to 500 houses in Zimbabwe’s high-density suburbs.

They have stated that the amount being charged was not commensurate with the works being done.

In one of the cases that has exposed the extent of looting in Zimbabwe, the independent recently unearthed explosive details of theft of compensation funds relating to the US$88 million Mbudzi Interchange project in Harare, after anti-graft investigators zeroed in on Ministry of Transport bosses fingered in the scandal.

Subsequent to our exclusive story, a top director in the ministry was arrested and is currently out on bail.

But it is said the probe could net bigwigs in the Local Government ministry along with bosses at two of Zimbabwe’s leading real estate agencies, which made valuations of the properties around that area.

It was estimated last year that up to US$35 million will be paid out to about 130 affected companies and residential properties owners for relocation.

Some officials claimed that out of US$35 million, about US$12 million could have been paid to 52 individuals and businesses by the end of 2023.

This government’s reputation is in tatters and a huge opportunity to make amends has been missed.

Related Topics