It’s now over five months since the new Cabinet was appointed with President Robert Mugabe talking tough against endemic corruption vowing to fight it and pledging government’s commitment.
But is enough being done and how serious is the government about fighting this scourge?
A recent Afrobarometer survey reveals that one in every five people in Africa has paid one or more times to a government official in the past year, just to get an official document. In Zimbabwe, it could be worse!
A year ago, the Anti-Corruption Trust of Southern Africa found that graft among traffic police was worsening, with some officials having accumulated wealth which they could not “justify against their monthly salaries”.
In the last few weeks, there have been reports exposing obscene public sector salaries with top managers earning as much as $230 000. This is coming at a time the country’s economy is regressing. As many as 700 firms closed shop last year mainly because the economy is not performing while essential national obligations in service delivery all have had to share a meagre $4,1 billion cake.
The delay in announcing the 2014 budget by Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa pointed to the bankruptcy of the government and it is unthinkable that those in public office could be sanctioned by State-appointed boards to behave so shamelessly over the management of meagre public funds.
It is important that the government leads the fight against corruption with urgency.
The social injustice of such gross greed cannot go unchallenged.
Deterrent punitive action must be taken against errant public officials than suspension and mere dismissals from duty while they walk away with their loot and in some cases, huge packages.
This is a breach of public trust that needs to be publicly dealt with to assure the nation’s struggling multitudes that the government is at least on their side.
The corruption playing out in the country hurts the poor and weak the most, 60% of whom live in poverty, without basic services like water, electricity or shelter because there is supposedly not enough resources to build new infrastructure, improve or extend it to new areas of urban or rural expansion.
This is reason enough for Mugabe to bring sanity and a transparent corporate governance culture that promotes and upholds an ethos of honest stewardship in Zimbabwe.
Graft is bad for democracy because people who “perceive higher levels of corruption within State institutions and those who have engaged in petty corruption” are more likely not to value democracy.
On the economic front, corruption is known to discourage investment as it increases the cost of business and uncertainty over profits.