HomeOpinion & AnalysisColumnists‘Subdue your appetite’

‘Subdue your appetite’

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In his post–independence heyday the, then indefatigable Edgar Tekere repeatedly warned of the scourge of corruption engulfing the leadership with a disturbing virulence.
Tekere admonished and berated his peers for metamorphosing into a corrupt, neo-colonial elite, similar to those we have seen in failed sister African states elsewhere.
The former Zanu PF secretary–general questioned the source of their newfound wealth, which was not in tandem with their modest earnings.
He asked where all this wealth was coming from “when we all didn’t have a spoon on our return from exile”, and whether such sudden “windfalls” were not clearly ill-gotten.
But, like an Old Testament patriarch, Tekere might as well have been shouting in the wilderness. He was speaking with and to the deaf! The biblical Noah must have been just as frustrated as he warned non-believers, who finally perished, of the impending flood!
Like John the Baptist, before him, the full might and wrath of officialdom descended upon Tekere for his outspokenness.
And like an ugly stepchild, he was chastised and thrown into the political dustbin. No sooner had Tekere exited the scene than the substance of his sermon began to graphically manifest itself.
The beast that swallowed Tokyo had come home to stay — ossified like a coral reef in our governance system — CORRUPTION!
Tekere — now frail and well into the twilight zone of his years lives a humble life with his wife Pamela, in Mutare, today, dogged by terminal infirmity and forgotten by his now extremely wealthy erstwhile comrades-in-arms.
However, he is revered and adored by the common man. His music may have stopped, but the melody lingers on! Beware — the culture of corruption! It is said that a prophet is never recognised in his own country!
There once lived a man named Maurice Nyagumbo — a kind, humble and compassionate man — a selfless and fearless fighter for black emancipation from colonial slavery. Nyagumbo never went to war as he was in detention. I guess one could classify him as an unarmed combatant, of which the greater majority of our population were, although popular prejudice peddled and fanned by some self-appointed high priests of political correctness runs in favour of limiting the struggle to our formally armed brothers and sisters only.
Nothing could be further from the truth!
In fact, Nyagumbo was so combative that he had to be detained the longest, up until independence.
On his release Nyagumbo bought a farm in Headlands, to secure his family’s future, but was advised that the farm size was in excess of the 50 acres maximum stipulation allowed by the Leadership Code. So faithful was he to the ideals and tenets of exemplary conduct that he gave up the farm. This begs the question: How many of our current “buccaneer” political elites can match or come anywhere near Nyagumbo’s example of modesty and piety today?
When the media broke a story about Willowvale Motor Company and the shady goings–on, involving motor vehicles, the then prime minister immediately instituted a Commission to investigate — the Sandura Commission, headed by the then High Court judge, Justice Wilson Sandura. Nyagumbo, among others, was implicated in the scam.
The scam involved individuals, purportedly, acquiring and selling their vehicles above the controlled or stipulated prices. While it is said that Nyagumbo had not sold any cars, he had helped others acquire vehicles because of the general shortage. It is those others, who had in turn sold their cars above the stipulated prices and it was inferred that Nyagumbo might have benefited from the proceeds.
In honour, Nyagumbo resigned as minister, as did others, and subsequently went on to commit suicide. Looking back, if Nyagumbo had lived today, he would have found out that the Leadership Code was mere puritanical pretences by his colleagues and that he dismally failed to read the game plan.
Nyagumbo died for a mere Cressida motor vehicle, while some of his colleagues now boast of unimaginable wealth and possess multiple farms of thousands upon thousands of acres, and vast swathes of urban commercial land, with millions upon millions in cash, plant, equipment, livestock, and fat offshore bank accounts.
Poor Nyagumbo! He must be turning in his grave – kufirawo mafufu se gonzo here (to die for such trifles)!
But many of the colleagues who were vetted by the Sandura Commission were found guilty as charged! So in a sense Tekere was “the man who saw tomorrow”! Commissions of inquiry are a thing of the past now. Not because of the Nyagumbo debacle, but because when last we had them, all sorts of things leapt to the eye when the dragnet netted the most unimaginable and sacred cows. Whole catch shoals had to be released back into the sea.
The Harare City Council has unearthed what appears on prima facie, to be one of the mothers-of-all “scandals”— a case that pales the Willowgate scandal into insignificance, by comparison, if proven, yet — not a dog has barked! Cases involving farmers’ other property, outside the land, per se, which is understandably political, are merely recorded and swept under the carpet. Cases involving the RBZ and mega diamond parcels are hush-hushed and even a Parliamentary Select Committee, an emissary of that august and supreme law–making house, sent to investigate the Chiadzwa debacle is sent packing on countermands from some “warlords.”
You can have an audit carried out in NRZ and some such bankrupt public institutions, but if you as much as mention an audit of Harare City Council, Chiadzwa, hunting concessions or — the central bank-the world will fall apart!
It can be farms, motor vehicles, plant, equipment, tractors, loans, fertilisers, fuel, mines, gold diamonds, companies — you name it, it’s the same predatory political elite or “usual suspects”, that are always in the front row with their insatiable appetites.
The lot for the common people has not changed for the better —it gets worse while political elites gorge themselves bellyful, and continue to “eat”! This makes a mockery of African independence!
If he lived today, Nyagumbo would have been shocked to see the wealth that has been amassed by some of his colleagues in inverse relationship to the penury of the ordinary people. In transparent jurisdictions people in high political office are frequently monitored and required to declare their interests to ensure they do not use their office to enrich themselves but serve the people.
All talk of the Leadership Code was mere double-standards to lull the people to sleep while the political elite make a killing.
They will not hear of anything called an “audit” of public institutions which they are fleecing. Such exercises are called witch-hunts. These “sacred” institutions have become the citadels of the political elite’s private consumption.
Now, who would be nervous about a witch-hunt other than a witch? Where was talk of witch-hunts when Sandura Commissions were instituted? Are our affairs now run by a gaggle of witches who don’t want to be unmasked? Corrupt political elites’ private consumption from public utilities is the weight that has brought our economy crushing, not “sanctions”.
It’s a real tragedy.
It’s a double tragedy when those who are charged and entrusted with the responsibility of ensuring that this does not happen, are themselves, also, so equally compromised that they cannot “cast the first stone”.
The colonising robber barons of old may have been corrupt, but they left roads, railways, water and sanitation, and a vibrant economic infrastructure. Our marauding political elite leaves nothing, but strewn debris of utter destruction and misery. Unfortunately this is the trend with sub-Saharan Africa with few exceptions. It is sad that Zimbabwe has ignored all STOP LOOK & LISTEN road signs.
In his piece in Nicholas Nickelby, Charles Dickens admonishes thus: “Subdue your appetite and you’ll have conquered human nature”. Until we learn to subdue our appetites, we are doomed! It’s time we separated fact from fiction. We should develop that extra-sensory perception of choosing credible leaders and drivers of our political process.
There is need for us to raise the bar, qualitatively — begin the longest journey of all — the journey into SELF . . . to redefine who we are! We cannot continue to be defined by the corruption, hate and violence we see all around us today. What happened to our ideals of . . . Honesty, Justice, Liberty and Peace?
Future generations are going to have a daunting task of cleaning up the mess created by our corrupt leaders.

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