HomeOpinion & AnalysisColumnistsExecutive action — not tough talk — is solution to corruption

Executive action — not tough talk — is solution to corruption


More often than not, President Robert Mugabe has tried to play public protector by threatening to expose corruption and misgovernance by his colleagues in government.

This political subterfuge has however failed to wash because he has not followed through on his threats and supposed doggedness to act.

In fact, this failure to act is a major handicap in his administration.

At the weekend during the memorial service of his sister Sabina, President Mugabe appeared to lash out at corrupt individuals whom he said were looting diamonds from Chiadzwa.

He told those present that companies and individuals who had been tasked to mine diamonds from Chiadzwa were pocketing the stones and diverting proceeds from the mines for self-enrichment.

President Mugabe promised to take the culprits to task to ensure honesty.

The conclusion from his statement is that he knows the individuals who are responsible for the vice. The statement also suggests that he is doing something about it in a strong way.

But hold on.

This is where our leader has been disappointing. He has in the past promised to expose the corrupt in his government and done nothing about it.

He has told the nation that is he aware of multiple farm owners and those responsible for looting resources from various government projects.

Because the President has stated publicly his displeasure at corruption and looting of state resources, we expect him to also publicly the reveal what has been done about the malfeasance and the results therefrom.

That critical information is always missing, giving the impression that nothing is being done to stem corruption.

This points us towards a critical facet that has remained a key outstanding issue in this government: public accountability.

The state has an obligation to explain publicly, before and after the fact, how they are carrying out responsibilities that affect the public in important ways.

The said looting of diamonds at Chiadzwa has its roots in the public accountability deficit.

President Mugabe expects good behaviour on the diamond fields yet the process of awarding concessions was shielded from the general public.

The state had an obligation to clearly explain its plans at Chiadzwa before awarding concessions.

The nation has every right to know the concessionaires and the conditions attached to mining the gems.

Any reports of corruption should therefore be judged against this critical information.

This was not done.

Decisions which have a major bearing on the public must come with the major responsibility — accountability.

The public explanation obligation attaches to all important responsibilities in society — safety, health, social and legal justice, the environment and others.

Our government has generally shielded itself from public scrutiny by simply not revealing its plans, hence we have misuse of public money, refusal to uphold the rule of law, corruption in the awarding of tenders for major infrastructure and the execution of developments based on individual whims.

The first step in dealing with the problems at Chiadzwa should be the state disclosing how tenders were awarded and who is mining on the ground.

This can be a much better substitute for executive tough talk bereft of any action.

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