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Govt must root out corruption

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The probe which has revealed that supposed beneficiaries of the Williowvale Flats Housing Scheme in the capital, who include civil servants and the underprivileged, have been duped makes very sad reading.

The Housing and Social Amenities ministry has been exposed after allocating flats to undeserving people, including, children under the Willowvale Phase 2 scheme.

Members of the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Public Works and National Housing, chaired by Mutasa North MP David Chimhini, heard on Monday that some of the beneficiaries already owned multiple properties.

The committee also received shocking reports that civil servants were made to pay a deposit of $10 000 instead of the stipulated $3 600.

The housing scheme, which was opened with pomp and fanfare by President Robert Mugabe last year, was seen as part of the solution to the critical housing shortage in Harare.

Alas, far from improving the accommodation woes in the city, it has opened a can of worms.

It has only benefited those with influence and has left the civil servants and the underprivileged out in the cold.

This is a serious indictment on the inclusive government.

That such an alarming level of corruption in the housing sector is taking place under the nose of National Housing minister and MDC-T MP Giles Mutsekwa brings into question the sincerity of Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s party in fighting graft.

The MDC-T has, on countless occasions, declared its intolerance of corruption.

To have a senior member of the party embroiled in such a mess after such a declaration smacks of hypocrisy and deception.

It puts credence to accusations levelled against the MDC-T of having joined Zanu PF on the gravy train.

This is not the first time that this has happened.

The VIP Housing Scheme in the late 1990s involved the abuse of millions of dollars contributed to a National Housing Fund to build accommodation for low-income civil servants, but ended up being looted to build posh houses for chefs and other senior government officials.

The same has happened with Operation Garikai/Hlalani Kuhle, a scheme designed to provide housing to thousands rendered homeless by Operation Murambatsvina in 2005.

It also ended up benefiting chefs and senior government officials and not those affected by the government’s wanton destruction of houses on the grounds that they were a health hazard.

There is need for the principals of the inclusive government, Mugabe, Tsvangirai and Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara, to root out corruption in all its forms.

It is unacceptable that we continue to have cases of corruption that go unpunished. Among the numerous examples are the Willowgate and war veterans’ compensation scandals.

The latest scandal is a consequence of Mugabe’s failure to stamp out corruption in the face of glaring evidence over the last 32 years.

Mugabe has talked tough on corruption, but that is all it has been, talk. No action has been taken to make perpetrators accountable and this has created a fertile breeding ground for corruption.

This is also the opportunity for Tsvangirai to put his money where his mouth is and get to the bottom of the Willowvale Phase 2 Scheme as it involves his minister.

Failure will only lump Tsvangirai with Mugabe together as failures in combating corruption.

Civil servants and the underprivileged have borne the brunt of corruption by government officials. There is need for action and the time is now.

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