One of the darkest forces militating against economic recovery in Zimbabwe is the ugly spectre of corruption. Corruption bleeds developing economies of more than half of their wealth through leakages.
Were that money to be properly harnessed, phenomenal growth rates would be achieved. Just think where Liberias economy would be now were its diamonds free of the corruption tag, blood diamonds? Back home, local and international media were awash last week over the trial of prominent football personality Henrietta Rushwaya.
But shes clearly not the only person that has been accused of graft. In fact, the more worrying phenomenon is that there are possibly many more people who have acquired money by devious means, and with grievous detriment to the economy.
Some cases have appeared to have gone to the courts, and fizzled out just as quickly as they came to the fore.
Enter the Anti-Corruption Commission, perhaps our last line of defence against graft. In theory, the Anti-Corruption Commisson should be like the Great Wall of China: impenetrable.
High, thick and mighty, the quintessence of engineering ingenuity of the 5th Century BC, 6 259 kilometres long, five to eight metres high and six metres thick, the Great Wall of China was designed to be an impregnable fortress. Alas, historical records show that at least thrice enemies broke through the fortifications.
The enemy neither scaled the wall nor breached it. The enemy marched through the gates. How? The enemy bribed the gatekeeper! Word has it that, although theyve gotten off to a good start by bringing a number of cases to the attention of the courts (the previous commission is not known to have brought any), the Anti-Corruption Commission works on a shoestring budget.
While each commissioner is allocated about 30 policemen to help them conduct their investigations, the deplorable salaries of those police officers renders them almost ineffective should those under investigation wave a few dollars at them.
The commissioners themselves are said not to have much in the way of personal remuneration. This begs the question: Will our gatekeeper remain effective? The deterioration of the operations of our law enforcement agents, many of whom receive bribes in broad daylight, is a national tragedy.
On Tuesday, the Prime Minister told civil servants openly that government has no money to pay them the salary they desire. Unfortunately, the civil service includes the same law enforcement agencies, including those who work with the Anti-Corruption Commission.
The temptation for these officers to follow their Chinese counterparts is too high and the consequences too horrendous to contemplate.
We therefore need government to urgently address the remuneration issues, not only of the civil servants, but in particular of the law enforcement agents, the court officials, and institutions such as the Anti-Corruption Commission.
Otherwise we risk having our flanks ever exposed to corrupt tendencies and their paralysing effect on the growth of our economy.